Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi Calls on White House Counsel to Disclose Efforts to Pardon Paul Manafort
SCHAUMBURG, IL—In response to the newest reports concerning the FBI’s investigation into former Trump chair Paul Manafort, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi today sent a letter to White House Counsel Donald F. McGahn urging him to inform Congress and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller as to whether or not the President is considering pre-emptively pardoning Paul Manafort and whether the President is under any obligation to inform Congress and the Special Prosecutor should he choose to do so.
In July 2017, Congressman Krishnamoorthi introduced the Presidential Pardon Transparency Act of 2017, which requires the Attorney General to publish in the Federal Register and on the official White House website information regarding any Presidential reprieve or pardon issued. Currently, the President has no legal responsibility to inform Congress or the American people should he decide to issue a pre-emptive pardon.
“Over the past few months, the American people have witnessed revelation after revelation concerning White House aides and individuals associated with the Trump campaign. Yesterday’s report that FBI investigators had wiretapped Paul Manafort-- the former chair for the Trump campaign-- and that the FBI has informed Mr. Manafort that they plan to bring charges against him is merely the latest revelation.
From my experience with Attorney General Madigan’s anti-corruption efforts, I know the primary reason for informing a target of an upcoming indictment is to secure cooperation or testimony for the ongoing investigation. If the President pre-emptively pardons Mr. Manafort, Special Prosecutor Mueller will be unable to count on his cooperation to dig deeper into Russian meddling in our democracy.
In light of yesterday’s report, Special Counsel Mueller’s team must have perfect clarity as to the weight and veracity of Mr. Manafort’s testimony, as well as his willingness to cooperate with investigators. A pre-emptive Presidential pardon would disrupt the Mueller investigation, and cast further doubt on the trustworthiness of our leaders and our institutions. I urge White House Counsel McGahn to clarify to Congress, to Special Prosecutor Mueller, and to the American people whether or not the President is considering pardoning Mr. Manafort.”
Congressman Krishnamoorthi’s letter to Counsel McGahn follows:
September 19, 2017
The Honorable Donald F. McGahn, II
Counsel to the President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20006
Dear Counsel McGahn:
Since the July 20 report that the President was inquiring about the extent of his pardon powers toward White House aides, family members, and himself, the allegations against people affiliated with the White House and the Trump campaign have only continued to grow.
In particular, former campaign chair Paul Manafort has been the subject of growing scrutiny for his ties to the Russian government. In July, federal agents raided Mr. Manafort’s home as part of the ongoing investigation into Russia’s efforts to disrupt the 2016 election. Just yesterday, it was revealed that FBI investigators wiretapped Mr. Manafort both before and after the 2016 election. The intercepted communications reportedly confirm that Mr. Manafort was encouraging the Russian government to help the Trump campaign. If true, these allegations and any evidence gained from the wiretaps and the raid on Mr. Manafort’s home are crucial to Special Prosecutor Mueller’s investigation.
In light of yesterday’s report that the FBI has informed Mr. Manafort of their intent to bring charges against him, Special Counsel Muller’s team needs to have perfect clarity as to the weight and veracity of Mr. Manafort’s testimony, as well as his willingness to cooperate with investigators.
With this in mind, I respectfully request that you inform Congress and Special Prosecutor Muller of the following:
- Has President Trump considered, or is he currently considering, issuing a pre-emptive pardon to Mr. Manafort?
- Should he decide to issue a pre-emptive pardon, is the President under any obligation to inform the Special Prosecutor or Congress of his decision?
Special Prosecutor Mueller, Members of Congress, and the American people must know who will or will not be cooperating with the investigation, and whether the President intends to allow this investigation to proceed unhindered.
This investigation is a matter of utmost importance to the health of our republic. With each new revelation, the American people’s trust in the integrity of our democratic institutions erodes. A functioning democracy cannot stand when its people do not trust their leaders to uphold the law.
Thank you for your attention to this matter, and I look forward to your response.
Member of Congress