The ink was barely dry on Robert Mueller’s report last Friday when the calls for Trump to start issuing pardons began. Citing early reports that Mueller was not bringing any new charges, and taking that to mean that prior charges were somehow no longer relevant, Tucker Carlson suggested that Trump immediately rescue Roger Stone, who was indicted for lying to the FBI.
“Stone is still looking at life in prison. Where is Roger Stone’s pardon? His pardon from the president. Let’s hope it comes very soon,” Carlson said.
A week later, Stone is still waiting. But relief for him, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, and George Papadopoulos could be coming. (No one seems to care about Rick Gates, and Michael Cohen won’t be sniffing a pardon any time soon.)
In an interview with Sean Hannity Wednesday, Trump didn’t rule out the possibility of pardoning associates who’ve faced charges. “Many, many people were incredibly hurt by this whole scam,” Trump said when asked about possible pardons for Flynn and Papadopoulos. “I don’t want to talk about pardons now, but I can say it’s so sad on so many levels.”
The Hannitys and Carlsons of the world have spent all week pushing Trump to let his friends off the hook. The calls have come from Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk, Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton, and the internet’s Mike Cernovich, among others. They’ve primarily focused their attention on Flynn, who was “entrapped by federal agents that were seeking revenge against Trump,” Kirk tweeted (that’s not true).
Senator Rand Paul has also joined the chorus calling for a Flynn pardon. Asked on Fox News if Trump should come to the aid of any of his former aides, Paul said, “The one that I have the strongest feeling about is General Flynn.”
A day after Manafort was sentenced to nearly four years in prison for financial crimes earlier this month, Trump wouldn’t say if he would consider a pardon. But he’s long expressed sympathy for his former campaign manager, who would still face charges in New York state if Trump pardoned his federal convictions.
Among those calling for Trump to pardon Papadopoulos is Papadopoulos. The former Trump campaign adviser, who served 12 days in prison last year for lying to investigators, told Fox News that his lawyers have formally requested a pardon. “If it’s granted, I would be honored to accept it,” he said.
But as the AP reported Thursday, Trump’s also hearing from allies who think issuing pardons would be a bad idea.
White House aides and Republican lawmakers alike have advised the president to steer clear of the idea, particularly as House Democrats continue their investigations and the 2020 campaign has begun.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who spent last weekend with Trump, told reporters on Monday that “if President Trump pardoned anybody in his orbit, it would not play well.”
Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie have also told Trump to steer clear of pardons. For now at least, he’s listening. “The president is not going to consider pardons. He’s not gonna give any pardons,” Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, told the AP. “If it ever happens, it has to happen in the future, but nobody has any promise of it, nobody should assume it.”