Robert Mueller might already be considering the possibility that President Trump would pardon his former campaign chairman should Mueller's investigation uncover any wrongdoing. Citing several sources, Politico reports that the special counsel has teamed up with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate Paul Manafort's financial transactions, including possible money laundering related to real estate deals in New York—a move that could pressure Manafort to cooperate in the larger probe into Trump's election campaign "as Trump does not have pardon power over state crimes." The Washington Post separately confirmed the report.
Though sources say there's no decision yet on whether to file charges, prosecutors reportedly believe Manafort's cooperation could rely on his chance at a presidential pardon. Indeed, they may be building a case against him "in hopes that he would provide information against others in Trump's inner circle in exchange for lessening his legal exposure," the Post previously reported. In related news, a source tells the AP that Rinat Akhmetshin, the Russian-American lobbyist and former Soviet military officer who attended the June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer, recently testified in front of Mueller's grand jury, showing Mueller's interest in the meeting. (Read more Paul Manafort stories.)