Marco Rubio says Donald Trump pardon for Paul Manafort would be ‘terrible mistake’

December 9, 2018 GMT

Sen. Marco Rubio on Sunday said it would be a huge mistake for President Trump to pardon Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman who has pleaded guilty to financial crimes and has been accused of violating a recent plea deal by lying to the FBI.

“I think it would be a terrible mistake if he did that,” Mr. Rubio said on ABC’s “This Week.” “Pardons should be used judiciously. They’re used for cases with extraordinary circumstances.”

Mr. Rubio said that while he understands Mr. Trump hasn’t ruled out a pardon, he also hasn’t heard talk from the White House that a pardon for Mr. Manafort is under serious consideration.

“I would advise strongly against it. It would be a terrible mistake,” said Mr. Rubio, Florida Republican.

In a new court filing, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team said Mr. Manafort lied about his contacts with a Russian business associate and administration officials, a wire transfer to a company working for Mr. Manafort, and information tied to another Justice Department investigation.

Mr. Mueller’s team says Mr. Manafort broke a plea agreement by lying to the FBI - a claim Mr. Manafort’s legal team has disputed.

But Mr. Rubio says a pardon should be off the table.

“Not only does it not pass the smell test, I think it undermines the reason why we have presidential pardons in the first place,” he said. “I think, in fact, if something like that were to happen, it could trigger a debate about whether the pardon powers should be amended given these circumstances.”