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Fox contradicts White House on whether Trump is looking to pardon Manafort

President Donald Trump is not currently looking to pardon Paul Manafort after he was found guilty on eight felony charges, the White House said Wednesday. But according to a Fox News reporter who asked the president earlier in the day, Trump is indeed considering letting his former campaign chairman off the hook.

“I am not aware of any conversations regarding that at all,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a briefing to reporters.

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However, “Fox & Friends” anchor Ainsley Earhardt, after speaking with the president during an interview set to air in full on Thursday, said Trump is weighing the possibility of forgiving Manafort’s bank- and tax-fraud crimes

“He mentioned pardoning Manafort,” Earhardt told her Fox News colleague Sean Hannity on Wednesday night.

“I think he feels bad for Manafort,” she said. “They were friends. [Manafort] didn’t work for him for very long — worked for him for basically 100 days. The president didn’t know about all of this tax stuff. Of course he wouldn’t know about that.”

A Virginia jury on Tuesday found Manafort guilty on eight of 18 counts related to tax and bank fraud, in the first of two federal trials resulting from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The judge in Alexandria, Virginia, declared a mistrial on the remaining counts after jurors couldn’t reach a consensus.

The president earlier this week said that he was not looking to pardon Manafort. However, he has since offered high praise for Manafort — a contrast to when Trump tried to distance himself earlier this year.

In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, the president said that he felt “very badly” for Manafort and his family and called him a “brave man.”

Trump has been criticized for pardoning people who are famous. He has also repeatedly said that he believes he has the authority to pardon himself, which has never been tested in court, but that he does not intend to do so because he has not done anything wrong.

Sanders said that Manafort’s charges didn’t involve Trump or his administration.

“The Manafort case doesn’t have anything to do with the president, doesn’t have anything to do with his campaign and doesn’t have anything to do with the White House,” she said Wednesday.

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