US President Donald Trump said he would consider pardoning his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was convicted on Tuesday of bank and tax fraud, according to a Fox News reporter who interviewed Trump.
Fox News reporter Ainsley Earhardt said Trump told her in an interview on Wednesday that "he would consider" pardoning Manafort.
"I think he feels bad for Manafort. They were friends," Earhardt said in an appearance on Fox News’ "Hannity" program on Wednesday night.
Fox News has been airing excerpts of the interview with Trump, which is scheduled to be shown in its entirety on Thursday morning.
The excerpts have not included a clip of Trump saying he would consider pardoning Manafort.
Closing the net around Trump
Manafort was convicted on Tuesday of two counts of bank fraud, five counts of tax fraud and one charge of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.
In a tweet on Wednesday about the verdict, Trump called Manafort a "brave man" and said, "I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family."
.@ainsleyearhardt: "Are you considering pardoning Paul Manafort?"
President @realDonaldTrump: "I have great respect for what he's done in terms of what he's gone through…" pic.twitter.com/MaxTIyO9kx
— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 23, 2018
Members of both parties dismissed talk of impeachment on Wednesday, with some Democrats expressing fears Wednesday about such a politically risky step, and Republicans shrugging off the accusations or withholding judgment.
Trump’s strongest supporters echoed his "no collusion" retorts, suggesting that, absent any evidence that he worked with Russia to influence the 2016 election, there is just no high-crimes-and- misdemeanors case for impeachment.
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I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. “Justice” took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to “break” – make up stories in order to get a “deal.” Such respect for a brave man!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2018
Democrats, meanwhile, are trying to tamp down expectations from their liberal base of taking on the president for fear that impeachment talk will cause Republican voters to rally around Trump in November.
The dynamic underscored the political difficulty of impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill, especially for Republicans who have been reluctant to criticise the president but now face a new chapter in what has been a difficult relationship.
In pleading guilty to campaign-finance violations and other crimes Tuesday, Michael Cohenm Mr Trump’s former personal lawyer, said the president directed a hush-money scheme before the 2016 election to buy the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, both of whom said they had sexual relationships with Trump. Trump has accused Cohen of making up "stories in order to get a ‘deal’" from federal prosecutors.
At a glance | Presidential pardons
Even those few Republicans who have been willing to speak out about Trump are treading carefully in the wake of Cohen’s guilty plea.
"I don’t think I’ve witnessed anything like I’ve witnessed over the last year and a half. Probably, the American people haven’t in modern times," said retiring Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. But he stopped short of passing further judgment on the Cohen case.
"I’m sure there’s going to be other revelations that come up," he said, "and I think we ought to just let the process work."
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said that unless other information emerges, impeaching Trump is "not a priority" for Democrats if they regain control of the House this fall. Pelosi said she prefers to see Democrats work to ensure special counsel Robert Mueller can finish his investigation.
"If and when the information emerges about that, we’ll see," Pelosi said Tuesday as the news about Cohen was unfolding.