News & Politics

Trump: Manafort 'Refused to Break, Unlike Michael Cohen'

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Aug. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Trump, arriving in Charleston, W.V., for a rally tonight, gave a brief statement about Paul Manafort, who was convicted on eight felony counts earlier today. (Video below.)

Trump insisted that Manafort is “a very good man” noting that he had worked for both President Reagan and Sen. Bob Dole.

“It’s a very bad thing that happened to him,” Trump said. “This has nothing to do with Russian collusion, it’s a witch hunt, it’s a disgrace… I feel very badly for Paul Manafort.”

“It was not the original mission” of the investigation, he said. “It had nothing to do with Russian collusion. We continue the witch hunt.”

He refused to answer shouted questions about Michael Cohen.

Update 6:33 p.m. EST: Rudy Guiliani, President Trump’s private attorney, reacted to Michael Cohen’s statements in court today. “There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the President in the government’s charges against Mr. Cohen,” he said. “It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Mr. Cohen’s actions reflect a pattern on lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time.”

Update 8:33 p.m. EST: President Trump did not mention either Cohen or Manafort during his rally in W. Virginia tonight. There was a great deal of speculation that the president might go off on prosecutors or special counsel Robert Mueller, but at least for this speech, Trump stuck to the script — perhaps apprehensive about getting himself into more legal hot water.

Update Wednesday, 9:48 a.m. EST: President Trump, not surprisingly, took to Twitter this morning to discuss yesterday’s happenings with Michael Cohen and Paula Manafort. The president again expressed sympathy for Manafort, pointing out that he was found not guilty on ten of the 18 charges. At the same time, he blasted Cohen, even while pointing out that Cohen “plead guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are not a crime.”