Trump Downplays Manafort’s Campaign Role, Not Worried ‘As Long as He Tells The Truth’

President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House Wednesday that he isn’t worried about Paul Manafort’s cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The former Trump campaign chair reached a plea deal with Mueller last week, who is investigating the 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia, and agreed to cooperate so as to avoid a second trial.

Per the New York Times:

It is not clear what information Mr. Manafort offered prosecutors in three days of negotiations that led to the plea deal. But in court on Friday, Mr. Manafort agreed to an open-ended arrangement that requires him to answer “fully, truthfully, completely and forthrightly” questions about “any and all matters” the government wants to ask about.

Trump expressed his faith in Manafort when asked about the plea deal by reporters on Wednesday.

“If he is honest, and I think he is… as long as he tells the truth it’s 100%,” Trump said, before touting Manafort’s political bonafides: “He was with Ronald Reagan, he was with Bob Dole, he was with McCain, he was with many, many people. That’s what he did.”

“Paul Manafort was with me for a short period of time,” he continued. “He did a good job. I was very happy with the job he did.”

“And I will tell you this, I believe that he will tell the truth. And if he tells the truth, no problem.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Goes After ‘Illegal Mueller Witch Hunt’ Again Following Manafort Deal: ‘Continues in Search of a Crime’

President Donald Trump went after Robert Mueller and the special counsel investigation this morning two days after the Paul Manafort deal was announced.

Trump didn’t tweet about Manafort specifically, but instead attacked the Mueller probe again as “illegal” and grasping at straws:

[Mediaite]

Trump: Republicans’ and my poll numbers would be higher if not for Mueller’s ‘witch hunt’

President Trump accused special counsel Robert Mueller on Saturday of hurting his and Republican candidates’ approval ratings, again characterizing the special counsel’s investigation as a “witch hunt.”

The president tweeted Saturday afternoon that his approval ratings, which have hovered below 50 percent for weeks in most polls, and those of Republican candidates around the country would be higher if not for Mueller’s investigation into possible ties between his campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential election.

“While my (our) poll numbers are good, with the Economy being the best ever, if it weren’t for the Rigged Russian Witch Hunt, they would be 25 points higher!” Trump said.

“Highly conflicted Bob Mueller & the 17 Angry Democrats are using this Phony issue to hurt us in the Midterms. No Collusion!” he added.

Trump’s tweet comes one day after Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded guiltyFriday to two federal charges. In pleading guilty, Manafort agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team in its investigation.

As part of his cooperation, Manafort has agreed to submit to interviews with the special counsel, testify in any future cases and provide related documents.

Manafort, the fourth Trump associate to plead guilty in Mueller’s investigation, was found guilty last month of tax and bank fraud charges in a Virginia court and faced another trial in Washington, D.C., this month.

What Manafort’s plea agreement means for Mueller’s probe is yet unknown, but his cooperation could be significant for Mueller’s investigation given his work on the Trump campaign.

Trump’s tweet also followed a series of endorsements for Republican candidates across the country, including several candidates facing tight races in November like Nevada congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian (R) and Texas Rep. Pete Sessions (R).

[The Hill]

Trump again threatens to ‘get involved’ in the Justice Department

President Trump on Thursday evening again threatened to “get involved” in the Department of Justice (DOJ) “if it doesn’t straighten out.”

Trump said during a rally in support of Indiana Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun that the DOJ and the FBI “have to start doing their job and doing it right and doing it now.”

“I wanted to stay out, but if it doesn’t straighten out … I will get involved and I’ll get in there if I have to,” Trump said.

The president’s comments echoed those he made in May, when he threatened to “get involved” in a rolling dispute between conservative House Republicans and the top DOJ official overseeing the Russia probe.

Trump has frequently attacked the DOJ and Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The president’s feud with the DOJ has escalated since last week, when he said during an interview on “Fox & Friends” that Sessions “never took control of the Justice Department.”

“The Dems are very strong in the Justice Department,” Trump said. “And I put in an attorney general that never took control of the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions. Never took control of the Justice Department. It’s sort of an incredible thing.”

Sessions quickly fired back, saying in a statement that the DOJ “will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”

Weeks before that interview, Trump wrote on Twitter that Sessions should stop the special counsel’s investigation “right now.” Trump has repeatedly cast the investigation as a “witch hunt.”

Sessions has long drawn the ire of Trump for recusing himself from the Russia investigation a month after being installed at the DOJ last year.

The president’s attacks against Sessions have continued to fuel speculation that he could move to fire the attorney general at some point.

Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) both predicted last week that Trump will eventually fire Sessions.

Trump told Bloomberg News earlier in the day Thursday that Sessions would remain in his job until at least the November midterm elections, but declined to say whether he would keep Sessions after the elections.

The president appeared in Indiana on Thursday night in an effort to boost Braun, who is seeking to unseat Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) in November.

[The Hill]

Media

Manafort’s Trial Had EVERYTHING To Do With Russian Collusion

The big talking point coming out of Republican media is the conviction of Paul Manfort on 8 counts of fraud and facing a sentence of 80 years in prison is a major loss for Robert Mueller because it has nothing to do with Trump, Russia, collusion, or obstruction of justice.

To say the case had nothing to do with Russia or collusion misses two key points.

Fist, the judge in the case banned both sides from mentioning Russia, even banning the world “oligarch.”

So nobody should be surprised the outcome had nothing to do with Russia.

Second, this has everything to do with Russia.

Robert Mueller’s Prize isn’t Paul Manafort, it’s Donald Trump. And as many experts have noted Mueller is approaching this like a RICO case, that requires flipping smaller fish, getting them to cooperate with you, in order to get the next biggest fish, until you get the biggest fish you can.

The reason this trial existed is because Mueller found Paul Manafort’s illegal activity and he refused to flip and turn state’s evidence.

So, just like in any normal RICO case, you put that person on trial with the evidence you have against them, such as hiding income from the IRS, and you keep turning the screws until they flip to get you that next bigger fish.

This is why Mueller has Manafort on another trial next month regarding his money laundering for Russian oligarch-backed Ukrainians.

Why continue to have multiple trials even though Manafort was found guilty and will probably spend the rest of his life in jail? Again it’s not about Manfort but Trump. Mueller wants the information Manafort has. As a prosecutor you can continue to put pressure on Manfort until it becomes too great for him, then you can give him the incentive to go back and reduce his sentence should he flip and cooperate with the Special Council.

So to believe the claim that Manafort’s conviction has nothing to do with Russia, you’ll really need to ignore all context surrounding the trial, and why it went to trial to begin with.

Trump slams Cohen, lauds Manafort after twin legal blows

U.S. President Donald Trump, in tweets about the stunning legal setbacks involving two of his former lieutenants, on Wednesday attacked the one who has turned on him and defended the one who has remained loyal.

Trump lashed out at former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen in a Twitter post by saying the campaign finance violations Cohen pleaded guilty to in federal court in New York on Tuesday were “not a crime” – even though prosecutors and Cohen agreed that they were. Trump made the claim without offering any evidence.

In another tweet, Trump said, “If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen.”

At the same time, Trump on Twitter praised former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was convicted on Tuesday of multiple counts of fraud, as a “brave man” for not cooperating with federal authorities.

Cohen pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges of tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations. He told a federal court in Manhattan that Trump directed him to arrange payments ahead of the 2016 presidential election to silence two women who said they had affairs with Trump.

Fox News released excerpts of an interview conducted with Trump on Wednesday in which the president said he knew of the payments “later on” but did not elaborate.

After first denying that he knew anything about the payments, Trump earlier this year acknowledged that he reimbursed Cohen for payments he made in late 2016 to Stormy Daniels, an adult-film actress whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. Daniels has alleged she had a relationship with Trump.

The president has insisted he paid Cohen out of personal funds and that the payments were not intended to benefit his campaign but to resolve a personal matter.

“They’re weren’t taken out of campaign finance. That’s a big thing,” Trump said in the Fox interview. “They didn’t come out of the campaign; they came from me.”

[Reuters]

Reality

This is a lie.

Trump was heard on a secret recording by Michael Cohen proving he knew at the time illegal hush payments were being made.

Donald Trump admits he’s sad about Manafort — but ‘it has nothing to do with collusion’

President Donald Trump spoke to the press after he landed in Charleston West Virginia Tuesday.

“Paul Manafort’s a good man. He was with Ronald Reagan. He was with a lot of very different people over the years,” Trump said. “I feel very sad about that. I still feel, you know, it is a very sad thing that happened.”

Trump then turned to repeat his talking point that there was no Russian collusion.

“This has nothing to do with Russia and collusion,” he said. “This started as Russian collusion. This has absolutely nothing to do. This is a witch hunt and a disgrace. This has nothing to do what they started locking out looking for Russians involved in our campaign. There were nothing.”

He then returned to praise Manafort, saying he feels bad. “He worked for Bob Dole. He worked for Ronald Reagan. He worked for many, many people. And this is way it ends up.”

He then blasted the efforts by the special counsel, which he characterized as a witch hunt.

“It was not the original mission. Believe me. It was something very much different. So, nothing to do with Russia and collusion. We continue the witch hunt. Thank you very much,” he said.

[Raw Story]

Reality

Sorry Trump fans but Manfort’s verdict has EVERYTHING to do with Russian collusion. Manafort refused to turn state’s evidence against Donald Trump regarding the 2016 Trump Tower meeting he attended with Trump Jr. & Jared Kushner. He wouldn’t play ball with Robert Mueller so now he goes to jail, or cooperates.

Trump Says He Could Lead the Investigation Into Himself: I Can ‘Run it if I Want’

President Donald Trump insists he has has stayed out of Robert Mueller‘s way so far — but he can seize control of the special counsel’s investigation if he wants to.

As part of a wide-ranging conversation with Reuters published on Monday, the president faced questions about whether he would ever give an interview to Mueller under oath. Trump grumbled that a Mueller interview would be a “perjury trap” if his discrepancies and past statements get used against him.

“Even if I am telling the truth, that makes me a liar,” said Trump. “That’s no good.”

Trump went on to say he’s “totally allowed” to run the special counsel investigation into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia.

[Mediaite]

Trump Dares John Brennan to Sue: ‘Worst CIA Director’ Will Have to Reveal Texts, Emails and Documents

President Donald Trump tweeted once again about former CIA director John Brennan after revoking his security clearance.

Trump went on to say that Brennan is a “political ‘hack’”:

Brennan has been extremely vocal in his criticism of Trump, even before his security clearance was revoked. Several former White House officials who have criticized the Trump administration have had their security clearance taken from them in the past few weeks, raising concern that Trump is looking to silence his political enemies.

[Mediaite]

Trump says WH lawyer McGahn isn’t ‘a John Dean type ‘RAT”

President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that White House lawyer Don McGahn isn’t “a John Dean type ‘RAT,'” making reference to the Watergate-era White House attorney who turned on Richard Nixon.

Trump, in a series of angry tweets, blasted a New York Times story reporting that McGahn has been cooperating extensively with the special counsel team investigating Russian election meddling and potential collusion with Trump’s Republican campaign.

“The failing @nytimes wrote a Fake piece today implying that because White House Councel Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel, he must be a John Dean type ‘RAT,'” Trump wrote, misspelling the word “counsel,” as he often does. “But I allowed him and all others to testify – I didn’t have to. I have nothing to hide……”

The New York Times said in a tweet that it stands by the story.

Trump’s original legal team had encouraged McGahn and other White House officials to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller, and McGahn spent hours in interviews.

Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Trump didn’t raise executive privilege or attorney-client privilege during those interviews because his team believed — he says now, wrongly — that fully participating would be the fastest way to bring the investigation to a close.

“The president encouraged him to testify, is happy that he did, is quite secure that there is nothing in the testimony that will hurt the president,” Giuliani said.

McGahn’s attorney William Burck added in a statement: “President Trump, through counsel, declined to assert any privilege over Mr. McGahn’s testimony, so Mr. McGahn answered the Special Counsel team’s questions fulsomely and honestly, as any person interviewed by federal investigators must.”

Trump, in his tweets, continued to rail against the Mueller investigation, which he has labeled a “witch hunt.”

“So many lives have been ruined over nothing – McCarthyism at its WORST!” Trump wrote, referencing the indiscriminate and damaging allegations made by Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s to expose communists.

“Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!” he later tweeted.

Dean was White House counsel for Nixon, a Republican, during the Watergate scandal. He ultimately cooperated with prosecutors and helped bring down the Nixon presidency, though he served a prison term for obstruction of justice.

Dean, a frequent critic of the president, tweeted Saturday night in response to the Times story: “McGahn is doing right!” He later wrote, “Nixon, generally very competent, bungled and botched his handling of Watergate. Trump, a total incompetent, is bungling and botching his handling of Russiagate. Fate is never kind to bunglers and/or botchers! Unlike Nixon, however, Trump won’t leave willingly or graciously.”

Critics of the president have recently compared his decision to target the security clearances of critics and those involved in the Russia investigation to the “enemies list” created by the Nixon White House to keep track of political opponents they intended to target with punitive measures.

[PBS]

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