President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani arrives at the White House in Washington. Picture: Reuters/Joshua Roberts
WASHINGTON: Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has said 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 year-long investigation to an end.

Giuliani denied that Trump was trying to send a message to Paul Manafort, the 2016 chairman for nearly five months, or others to refrain from co-operating with prosecutors. The former New York City mayor suggested that an end to the investigation could be in sight - 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, he’s still the president. He retains his pardon power. Nobody is taking that away from him. He can pardon, in his judgement.”

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 criticised that decision as “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 his view of Mueller’s investigation, saying it was “on pretty weak grounds right now”.

Republican Senator Susan Collins said she thought it would be “more helpful if the president never mentioned the word pardon again with respect to the Russian investigation because he wants to get it completed. And every time he brings up the issue of pardons it gives the investigators something else that they have to look into.”

Seeking to undermine Mueller’s work, Trump and his lawyers have seized on a Justice Department inspector-general’s report on the 2016 Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation that found insubordination and poor judgement at the FBI. Some of the officials who worked on the Clinton investigation also worked on the FBI’s Russia probe, but the report did not find that political bias had tainted the Clinton review.

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 case is 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.”

Echoing Giuliani’s view, former White House strategist Steve Bannon said there was no need for pardons because Trump could disrupt the Russia investigation by firing Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller.

Bannon suggested Trump order Rosenstein to comply with every subpoena from congressional committees. “If he does not do it in 48 hours, he’s fired.” - AP