President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he feels ‘very badly’ for his ex-campaign chairman whose now facing life in prison after being convicted on charges of fraud.
Jurors found Paul Manafort guilty today on eight of 18 charges in a tax and banking fraud case brought by prosecutors who were tasked with probing Russian election meddling.
‘I feel very sad about that, because it involved me,’ Trump told reporters ahead of a West Virginia rally, ‘but I still feel, you know, it’s a very sad thing that happened.Trump did not take the same opportunity to praise his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who plead guilty today to a host of crimes in a statement that implicated the president.
The president indicated that he sympathizes with his ex-attorney and his ex-campaign manager as he landed in Charleston for a rally this evening that was supposed to pump up his base and energize voters in West Virginia to support Republicans.
Back to back blows in the criminal cases of Manafort and Cohen cast a shadow over Trump’s travel, though, and the president appeared upon his arrival in West Virginia to be unusually downtrodden.
Walking over to reporters on the tarmac in Charleston, Trump said: ‘I feel badly for both.
‘I must tell you that, Paul Manafort’s a good man,’ he insisted. ‘
In a flash of anger Trump berated Robert Mueller and his team of investigators.
‘This has nothing to do with Russian collusion. This started as Russian collusion. This has absolutely nothing to do – it is a witch hunt and it’s a disgrace,’ he said. ‘This has nothing to do with what they started out, looking for Russians involved in our campaign – there were none.’
Trump had an hour on his way to West Virginia to process the guilty verdict for Manafort and the guilty plea for Cohen. And still he was still in shock when Air Force One landed.
‘I feel very badly for Paul Manafort,’ Trump repeated. ‘Again he worked for Bob Dole, he worked for Ronald Reagan, he worked for many people.’
Pausing to take it all in, Trump added: ‘And it’s just the way it ends up.
‘It was not the original mission, believe me. It was something very much different. So it had nothing to do with Russian collusion.