Donald Trump Speaks Out After Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen Guilty Charges

US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Donald Trump spoke out on Tuesday, August 21, hours after his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was found guilty on eight counts of financial crimes, and Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen also pled guilty to eight counts.

Trump, 72, praised Manafort when asked about the verdict by reporters as he arrived in Charleston, West Virginia, for a rally on Tuesday.

“Paul Manafort is a good man. He was with Ronald Reagan. He was with a lot of different people over the years. 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,” Trump said. “This has nothing to do with Russian collusion.”

Trump declined to answer questions about Cohen’s guilty plea at the rally, but he addressed the news the next morning on Twitter. “If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!” he wrote. Trump then tweeted that he feels “very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family” before accusing Cohen of making “up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’”

Earlier on Tuesday, CNN reported that Manafort can face up to 80 years in jail for the crimes, which include five tax fraud counts, two counts of bank fraud and one charge of hiding foreign bank accounts. The outlet reports that prosecutor Greg Andres deemed the trial “a case about lies” during the closing statements.

Manafort was also faced 10 other charges that were declared a mistrial after no verdicts could be reached on the counts. A sentencing date was not given, however, the judge has given prosecutors a deadline of August 29 to make a decision on if they will retry the Connecticut native on those charges.

The political consultant is also set to appear in court next month in Washington, D.C., on related charges.

Earlier that day, Cohen, the man widely referred to as “Trump’s fixer,” pled guilty to eight charges including five counts of evasion of assessment of income tax liability, one count of false statements to a bank, one count of causing an unlawful corporate contribution. The counts include payments Cohen made to silence women who claimed to have affairs with the former reality star. He also implicated the president, saying that he acted “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office.”

Cohen’s attorney, Lanny J. Davis, said in a statement on Tuesday that his client “took this step today so that his family can move on to the next chapter. This is Michael fulfilling his promise made on July 2nd to put his family and tell the truth about Donald Trump. Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election.”

The statement concluded: “If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”

Manafort’s charges — which he pled not guilty to in October — include conspiracy against the United States and to launder money, failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts and more.

After the announcement of his charges, Manafort agreed to home detention. His $10 million bail was revoked in June after he was charged with witness tampering. He was ordered to jail at the time, a sentencing that Trump tweeted was “very unfair.”

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