Andrew Weissmann, a top prosecutor under former special counsel Robert S. Mueller, accused President Trump on Thursday of obstructing justice by pardoning his former advisers Roger Stone and Paul Manafort.
Mr. Weissmann, who helped the Department of Justice secure convictions against both Mr. Stone and Mr. Manafort, argued Mr. Trump acted criminally by granting full pardons to each of them Wednesday.
Appearing on MSNBC, Mr. Weissmann accused the president of having previously dangled pardons for Mr. Stone and Mr. Manafort that caused both of them to avoid cooperating with federal prosecutors.
Mr. Trump pardoning both Mr. Stone and Mr. Manafort “was essentially the president carrying out the final act of an obstruction of justice,” Mr. Weissmann said.
Speaking moments later on “Morning Joe,” Mr. Weissmann said he believes Mr. Trump can be prosecuted for obstruction of justice once his presidency ends next month and the new administration enters office.
“Starting on Jan. 20, 2021, when President Trump is no longer the president, there is no longer a Department of Justice policy that prohibits indicting him, and the actions yesterday can be part of a charge that includes the obstruction of justice of the Mueller investigation,” Mr. Weissmann added.
Mr. Mueller, a former FBI director, was appointed early during the Trump administration to investigate allegations involving Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and related matters.
The more than 30 people charged as a result of the Mueller probe included several former members of Mr. Trump’s presidential election campaign, including both Mr. Stone and Mr. Manafort, among others.
Mr. Stone was found guilty last year of seven felony counts, including charges of witness tampering, perjury and obstruction of Congress. He was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison but served no time.
Mr. Manafort was separately convicted of several financial crimes and also pleaded guilty to counts of conspiring to defraud the U.S. and obstruct justice. He was imprisoned for several months.
In a statement late Wednesday, the White House said Mr. Trump was pardoning Mr. Stone, 68, and Mr. Manafort, 71, citing alleged prosecutorial abuse in the cases against either of his former advisers.
Mr. Stone subsequently announced Thursday morning he intends to sue the Justice Department and Mr. Mueller, among others, for $25 million, similarly alleging “prosecutorial misconduct.”