President Donald Trump just heard the latest news about Paul Manafort, his former campaign chair. And he isn’t very happy about it.
“It’s a very sad thing that happened. This has nothing to do with Russian collusion,” Trump told reporters upon landing in West Virginia for a rally on Tuesday night. “This is a witch hunt and it’s a disgrace,” he continued, adding “I feel very badly for Paul Manafort.” Trump also made sure to note that the Manafort verdict had nothing to do with him.
A Virginia jury concluded after four days of deliberation that Manafort was guilty of five counts of tax fraud, one count of failing to report his foreign accounts, and two counts of bank fraud.
Trump has the authority to pardon Manafort, but it’s not yet clear if he will — although Trump could offer some clues as to his thinking on that during the rally this evening in front of his many supporters who surely aren’t happy with the decision, either.
Despite the crimes, Trump told reporters he still believes Manafort is a “good man.”
What stood out was what Trump didn’t say during his brief statement. He offered no words at all about Michael Cohen — his longtime personal lawyer and fixer — who pleaded guilty to eight crimes of his own at almost the same moment as the Manafort verdict.
The charges against Cohen include campaign finance violations related to hush money payments he made to porn actress Stormy Daniels and other women during the 2016 election. What’s more, Cohen admitted that he did so at the direction of Trump, and with the goal of influencing the election.
In other words, Cohen just implicated Trump in a federal crime. If that’s the case, it’s no wonder Trump chose to stay silent on that — at least for now.