Trump says ‘too early’ to consider pardons in Russia probe

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© Reuters. Trump departs  the White House in Washington© Reuters. Trump departs the White House in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday declined to say whether he would consider pardoning any of his associates amid the ongoing Russia probe, declaring it was too early to consider such action and noting that so far no one has been convicted.

An investigation by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. president election and possible collusion by Trump’s campaign has led to several indictments and multiple guilty pleas.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is among those who have been indicted and is facing a range of charges from money laundering to making false statement to federal investigators. He has pleaded not guilty and will go on trial later this year in two federal courts.

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and Rick Gates, a longtime Manafort business partner, are among those who have entered guilty pleas.

The Mueller probe helped spur a separate case in New York that led law enforcement authorities to raid the home and office of Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who has yet to face any charges.

Asked if he would pardon Manafort or Cohen, Trump waived off the question.

“I haven’t even thought about it … It’s far too early to be thinking about it,” he told reporters at the White House before he departed for a summit of the G7 rich nations in Canada.

“They haven’t been convicted of anything. There’s nothing to pardon,” he said.

Trump has said there was no collusion with Moscow and has repeatedly blasted the Russia probe as a “witch hunt,” while Moscow has denied U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that it worked to interfere in the presidential election.

Trump has issued multiple pardons in recent days, and said he was considering a number of other high-profile cases including lifestyle maven Martha Stewart.

On Friday, he said he was weighing 3,000 other pardon cases, including the late heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, whose conviction was ultimately overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

On May 24 Trump issued a posthumous pardon to boxer Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champion, who was jailed a century ago due to his relationship with a white woman.

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