Adam Schiff, House Intelligence Committee: Trump team “terrified” over what Manafort might say

September 16, 2018 GMT

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Sunday that President Trump’s legal team hasn’t completely ruled out a pardon for former campaign chairman Paul Manafort because they’re worried about his decision to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller.

“Clearly, the Trump team is terrified about what Manafort may have to say,” Rep. Adam Schiff of California told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Manafort agreed to talk to investigators as part of a plea deal to avoid a second trial on charges related to his foreign lobbying. He’s already facing serious prison time on convictions a Virginia jury handed up.

His decision to cooperate with Mr. Mueller is a pivotal moment in the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign, given his position in Mr. Trump’s orbit at the time.

“Manafort is at the confluence of a number of pernicious interests,” Mr. Schiff said. “You’ve got the president’s son trying to get dirt from the Russians in Trump Tower, you’ve got the president himself asking the Russians for dirt on Hillary Clinton in a public statement.”

Mr. Schiff mused that Manafort decided it wasn’t worth facing trial in Washington, D.C., and waiting for a federal pardon, because state charges could ensnare him, anyway.

He also pointed to the speed with which Mr. Trump denounced his former personal lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen, who agreed to talk to prosecutors as part of separate plea in New York.

“Paul Manafort had to conclude watching the whole Michael Cohen saga, that trust and loyalty with Trump run in one direction only,” Mr. Schiff said. “You’re loyal to him, he’s not loyal to you. And so I think that sealed the deal.”