Rubio: Trump pardoning Manafort 'could trigger a debate about' pardon power

Sen. Marco Rubio weighs in on the latest court filings from the special counsel and federal prosecutors about Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former longtime attorney Michael Cohen.
6:43 | 12/09/18

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Transcript for Rubio: Trump pardoning Manafort 'could trigger a debate about' pardon power
Russia leading up to or during the campaign? Nothing at all? No. Not at all. That was president trump nearly two years ago before special counsel Robert Mueller had shown evidence of a pattern of contact between trump associates and Russians during the campaign. Joining me now to discuss this is Republican Marco Rubio, a key member of the senate intelligence committee. Senator Rubio, you heard the president there, January 2017, deny anyone in his campaign has contacts with Russia during the 2016 campaign. But that's not true, is it? Well, according to what we saw this week filed, no. There is an inconsistency there. That doesn't necessarily mean that -- you know, people here in this country have a presumption that you have to prove these things. That said, I always wanted the truth. That's what I've said from the very beginning. What we want for the country is all the facts and all the truth. I have always supported the Mueller investigation. I continue to do so. I think it's in the best interests for everyone involved, including, by the way, the president on many of these issues. I think it's important that this go forward. Once the American people have before them all the facts and information, then we begin to make political judgments about this. The same is true from the intelligence probe. I'm proud of the work the committee has done. It's not been partisan. Some of the things we have seen that have been released have caused the committee to go back and reattempt to reinterview some people. And we're going to continue to do our work. So, at some point here soon, the American people will have before them the report of the intelligence committee, the special prosecutor's work. And then we can begin to make some judgments about what needs to happen next. But, senator, let's just go back to what happened this week. Just to be clear. We know that at least five people in trump's orbit were receptive to Russian outreach. And those are Michael Cohen, Paul manafort, Donald Trump Jr., Michael Flynn, George papadopoulos. Is it possible to say that's coincidence? People have a right to say that's what happened. Especially when facing criminal charges. That doesn't make it true. It doesn't make it untrue either. There's no way to spin this. This is not a positive development for the people that are involved in this. I just think, and we have learned over time, it's important for all of this to be out there for us, within full context before we begin to make political judgments. I'll tell you when all that information is out there, no one is more important than our country. No one is held above the law. Everyone should also benefit from the presumptions the law has. But from a separate topic, the political judgment we want to make, that has a different standard to it. My position will be based upon the evidence and the information before the American people. And us, on the intelligence committee through the filings. Until that happens, it's important that we not ignore these things, but reserve judgment before we have all of it before us. It may make you feel stronger. We deserve the full truth. To the trump tweeted that these filings show he was totally cleared. Do you believe that? Well, that, obviously is the argument that the president will make and those around him. He feels strongly about it. It's about him. I think the rest of us, especially those of us in congress in the positions we're in, will have to make our own determinations. We'll have to make our own determinations on the basis of the information before us. Right now, we're getting bits and pieces. I would concede that we have more bits and pieces than we did a couple of weeks ago. Before I'm prepared to make a public pronouncement that I'm ready to make a judgment, I would like to have all the information before us. I would like to finish our work on the senate intelligence committee. I know the work you have and the work you need to do in terms of asking tough question. But we're called upon to make judgments. We need more information. I want to talk more about the southern district campaign finance violations that they found. The president had this to say when asked about it yesterday whether or not he gave Michael Cohen any direction. Sir, did you direct Michael Cohen to commit any violations of law? No, no, no. I know you talk about bits and pieces. This is a pretty big piece. So who do you believe, senator? The president or the justice department? I don't know. Either do you or anyone else. Frechb what you have already read. The justice department clearly says it. I'm not questioning the work they have done. They have someone that testified to that fact. The president is saying that that's not true. We don't know what other investigation the justice department has to corroborate it or that they don't have to corroborate it. Again. I think it's important for the information to be out here. I won't sit here and say it didn't happen. It's possible that the justice department has additional corroborating evidence. It's also possible they don't. And now you have the testimony of a witness who is facing criminal charges and looking for leniency versus someone who said it occurred the way they said. It's important for us to have the full context of the information before us before we can make final judgments on these issues. We don't know what additional information the justice department has to corroborate these charges or not. Let's move to Paul manafort. Just last week, trump refused to take a pardon for manafort off the table after Rudy Giuliani said he talked to manafort's lawyers. Would that be a redline for you? I think it would be a terrible mistake. Pardons should be used judiciously. Cases with extraordinary circumstances. I haven't heard that the white house is thinking about it. I know he hasn't ruled it out. I would advise strongly against it. It would be a terrible mistake, I think. I would not support it. I would be critical of it. I don't believe any pardon should be used in relation to these particular cases. Not only does it not pass the smell test, I think it undermines the reason we have presidential pardons in the first place. If something like that would happen, it could trigger a debate about whether the pardon powers should be amended given these circumstances. I hope they don't do that. Thank you very much for joining us, senator Rubio. Thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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