President Donald Trump on Tuesday suggested he would consider a pardon for his former White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, amid an ongoing investigation into his ties to Russia.
Bannon was forced to step down from his role after news of his connections to Russia first broke in March.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that Bannon was “not the type to stand for anything that goes against the President’s agenda,” according to CNN.
He later tweeted that he would ask the Senate Judiciary Committee to consider a possible pardon for Bannon.
Trump is the first president to ask the Judiciary Committee for a review of his former chief strategist after he was forced out of the White House in March, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Trump has since sought to distance himself from Bannon, who was also at the center of a federal investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
“Mr. Bannon has never, ever done anything illegal, even in Russia,” Trump tweeted Tuesday.
“He was one of the few people in the White house who was able to get the Russian hacking story out and the Russia collusion story out.
I would hope that Mr. Bannon would get a fair trial.”
Bannon is scheduled to appear in court Thursday to answer charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and wire fraud, the Justice Department said.
A White House official said Bannon’s appearance Thursday would be his first in months.
“The President believes that Mr, Bannon is not guilty of any crime, and he believes that he is innocent,” the official said in a statement.
“We look forward to his appearance in court today and look forward for his side of the story.”
Bannon, 65, was removed from his position as the chief executive of the alt-right news site Breitbart News in March after he helped to create a platform for white nationalism and Trump’s presidential campaign.
The president’s office has said Bannon was not involved in any of the Trump campaign’s activities or communications with Russia during the 2016 election, including during the probe into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.
The Justice Department has not confirmed any charges of Russian interference in the 2016 race, but it has said it has evidence that Russian agents tried to sway the election in Bannon’s favor.