President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Thursday the president agreed in June he "shouldn't do pardons" while special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is ongoing.
Giuliani made the comments after the Washington Post, citing Giuliani, reported that Trump recently asked his lawyers for their advice on the possibility of pardoning his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and other aides accused of crimes. He reportedly said Trump’s lawyers counseled against it and the president agreed and did not push the issue farther. Manafort was convicted Tuesday by a Virginia jury of financial crimes.
Giuliani told NBC News later Thursday that Trump did not specifically ask about Manafort in a June meeting.
"We discussed it in early June and we agreed no pardons during investigation," Giuliani said, "and that has not changed."
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Giuliani later added that the only conversation about a pardon "was a generic one that occurred around the time of the commutation for the woman recommended by Kim Kardashian,” referring to the commutation of the life sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, and that Manafort was not specifically discussed.
"The conversation came about because there had been several pardons and the press kept asking about pardons and I wanted to give one answer. So I brought it up with the president in early June, latest mid-June, and he said there would be no pardons for anyone involved in the investigation during the pendency of the investigation,” Giuliani said. "It was not Manafort specific, rather it was generic."
The Post updated its story to say that in a follow-up call with the newspaper, Giuliani clarified that his conversation with Trump was a general discussion about potential pardons for a range of people under investigation, including but not limited to Manafort.
The series of statements come amid questions over whether the president could pardon Manafort, who was convicted on eight of 18 counts on Tuesday and faces another trial next month in Washington.
In an interview on Fox News that aired Thursday morning, Trump did not rule it out when asked.
"I have great respect for what he's done in terms of what he's gone through," Trump said of Manafort.
The president also seemed to praise Manafort for not cooperating with investigators, as Manafort's former deputy, Rick Gates, did. He also was a Trump campaign official.
Trump's former attorney and so-called "fixer," Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty Tuesday to tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations and admitted he made hush-money payments to women at Trump's direction. While the plea deal is said to not contain a provision of cooperation, Cohen's attorney has said Cohen is willing to share additional information with Mueller's team.
"It's called flipping, and it almost ought to be illegal," Trump said in the Fox interview.
Trump and his White House press secretary have said that Manafort's criminal case has nothing to do with the president. The allegations for which Manafort was and is charged predate his involvement with the Trump campaign.