President Donald Trump told reporters on the ground in Charleston, West Virginia, on Tuesday evening that the convictions of his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, had nothing to do with “Russian collusion.”
Manafort was convicted by a jury on eight counts of bank fraud and tax evasion; the jury failed to reach a verdict on ten counts. Cohen pleaded guilty in an agreement with prosecutors and alleged that a “candidate” ad directed him to violate finance laws.
Trump spoke to reporters:
I feel badly for him. I must tell you that Paul Manafort’s a good man. He was with Ronald Reagan. He was with a lot of different people over the years, and I feel very sad about that. It doesn’t involve me, but I still feel, you know, it’s a very sad thing that happened. This has nothing to do with Russian collusion. This started as Russian collusion. This has absolutely nothing to do — it’s a witch hunt, and it’s a disgrace. This has nothing to do [with] what they started out looking for Russians involved in our campaign. There were none. I feel very badly for Paul Manafort — again, he worked for Bob Dole, he worked for Ronald Reagan, he worked for many people. And this is the way it ends up. And it was not the original mission, believe me — it was something very much different. So, [it] had nothing to do with Russian collusion. We continue the witch hunt. Thank you very much.
The president walked away as reporters shouted questions about Michael Cohen’s claims.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.