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The president has wide latitude to pardon people. HOWEVER, if the president uses his/her power to pardon as a means of protecting himself or herself from impeachment or criminal prosecution, that is an abuse of power, which is an impeachable offense AND a crime.
Trump, by publicly stating that he does not take issuing a pardon for Manafort off the table, publicly attempts to both obstruct justice and abuse the power of his office, BECAUSE the obvious reason he would pardon Manafort is to prevent Manafort from testifying against him.
So the issue is not whether or not Trump has violated laws, but rather what Congress and the Justice Department (which is independent of the president, even though the head of the agency reports to the president) do about the president committing crimes.
There is no way for the Democratic controlled House to not impeach Trump, although it is questionable whether the republican controlled Senate would convict him. However, in 2020 if Democrats win the White House and the Senate, former President Trump SHOULD be indicted and prosecuted for crimes he committed while in office.
Article II, Section II, Clause I
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump publicly floated the possibility that he’d pardon former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in connection with the special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller.
Trump, in an interview with the New York Post, made the dubious claim that he’d never discussed pardoning Manafort, but said he wouldn’t “take it off the table.”
Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s lawyers, previously told HuffPost that he discussed pardoning Manafort over the summer. “We both agreed that it made sense not to pardon anybody during the pendency of the investigation,” Giuliani said.
Manafort pleaded guilty to two charges as part of a plea agreement in September that required him to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation. Earlier this week, Mueller’s team accused Manafort of lying to investigators even after his plea deal, and asked a judge to set a sentencing date.
Manafort’s attorney, under a joint defense agreement with Trump, had been keeping Trump’s team informed about what Manafort told Mueller’s team.
Just before a jury convicted Manafort on eight tax and bank fraud charges in August, Trump hinted that he could pardon his former campaign adviser. “He happens to be a very good person,” Trump said. “And I think it’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort.”
Trump has previously tweeted that the charges against Manafort “have nothing to do” with collusion, suggested he was treated worse than Al Capone, said that the FBI was “doing a number on him,” and said that he felt “very badly” for Manafort and his family.