Trump reacts to Manafort sentencing: ‘No collusion’
Alex Edelman – Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In his first reaction since his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was sentenced to nearly four years in prison for tax and bank fraud, President Donald Trump on Friday zeroed in on the fact that none of the charges related to potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“Both the Judge and the lawyer in the Paul Manafort case stated loudly and for the world to hear that there was NO COLLUSION with Russia. But the Witch Hunt Hoax continues,” Trump tweeted, citing ongoing Congressional investigations.
“So bad for our Country!” he said.
Both the Judge and the lawyer in the Paul Manafort case stated loudly and for the world to hear that there was NO COLLUSION with Russia. But the Witch Hunt Hoax continues as you now add these statements to House & Senate Intelligence & Senator Burr. So bad for our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 8, 2019
After Judge T.S. Ellis noted at the sentencing that Manafort’s case did not involve the potential collusion that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating, Manafort’s attorney, Kevin Downing, made similar comments as he left court Thursday evening.
“As you heard in court today, Mr. Manafort finally got to speak for himself and made clear he accepts responsibility for his conduct and I think most importantly what you saw today is the same thing we had said from day one,” Downing said. “There is absolutely no evidence that Paul Manafort was involved in any collusion with any government official or Russia.”
The president’s first public reaction offered no insight into the president’s feelings about the man at the center of it all — his former campaign chairman — and his nearly four-year-long sentence.
In the past, Trump has offered glowing praise in defense of Manafort and his handling of the charges brought against him.
Soon after Manafort was convicted in August, Trump called Manafort a “very brave man,” making a direct contrast to his former personal lawyer and fix, Michael Cohen, who last week testified that Trump had directed him to lie to Congress.
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway spoke with reporters on Thursday night — shortly before Manafort’s sentencing — and, similar to the president’s comments Friday morning, emphasized that Manafort’s case wasn’t related to the issue of potential collusion.
She also expressed the view that the potential punishment he faced — more than 20 years in prison — was overly severe.
“I’m not sure what the sentence was but it did seem what their sentence may be was much than perhaps other people get for bigger crimes,” Conway said.
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