Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Sunday the president might pardon his jailed, onetime campaign chairman and others ensnared in the Russia investigation once special counsel Robert Mueller’s work wraps up, if he believed they were treated “unfairly.”
Until then, consideration of clemency is unnecessary, Giuliani said, as the White House presses to bring the yearlong investigation to an end.
Trump has regularly called the investigation into Russian election meddling a political “witch hunt” with no basis in truth.
Giuliani, the former New York City mayor turned Trump lawyer, suggested that an end to the investigation could be in sight one way or the other — either by undercutting the Mueller’s inquiry as illegitimate, or if necessary, by agreeing to a Trump interview with prosecutors under limited conditions.
“The president is not going to issue pardons in this investigation,” Giuliani said. “Because you just cloud what is becoming now a very clear picture of an extremely unfair investigation with no criminality involved in it of any kind.”
But, he added, “When it’s over, hey, he’s the president of the United States. He retains his pardon power. Nobody is taking that away from him. He can pardon, in his judgment.”
Former Trump campaign aide Paul Manafort was sent to jail last week after a federal judge revoked his house arrest over allegations of witness tampering in the Russia investigation. Trump has criticized that decision as “very unfair” as Manafort prepares for two criminal trials.
Trump has worked outside the traditional pardon process and used his clemency powers in cases where he believed prosecutors may have been motivated by politics. He made clear on Sunday his view of Mueller’s investigation, saying it was “on pretty weak grounds right now.”
Trump and his lawyers have seized on a Justice Department inspector general’s report on the 2016 Hillary Clinton email investigation that found insubordination and poor judgment at the FBI.
The Justice Department has asked its internal watchdog to review whether there was any politically motivated surveillance by the FBI of the Trump campaign.
“This is a case where it’s crying out for someone to investigate the investigators,” Giuliani said. “We want the Mueller probe to be investigated, the way the Trump administration has been investigated.”
Signaling some openness to a Trump interview with Mueller’s team, Giuliani outlined the possibility under narrow conditions and said he expected Trump to make a decision by July 4. Giuliani said he is opposed to having an interview but “the president wants to do it so we have to sort through it.”
“If we did have it … obviously what we would really like something in writing, responded to in writing. And it can be under oath.”
He said the interview could be audio recorded, but that questions would need to be limited just to specific questions about “the heart of the probe” — allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Giuliani said they’d prefer that Trump sit for a two-hour interview and Mueller’s team probably wants four, “so let’s settle at three.”
“There might be a narrow area that we could all agree on,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article