U.S. President Donald Trump remains, on a basic level, disconnected from reality. That’s not a figure of speech or hyperbole. Speaking Friday to reporters outside of the White House, he offered a defense of his former campaign manager Paul Manafort that completely ignores the basic facts of his situation.
‘I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad when you look at what’s going on there — I think it’s a very sad day for our country. He worked for me for a very short period of time, but you know what? He happens to be a very good person, and I think it’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort.’
“I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad,” President Trump says, defending his former campaign manager as “a very good person” pic.twitter.com/aZoSobs2LR
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 17, 2018
Nobody has done anything to Paul Manafort. Through the course of his investigation, Special Counsel for the Russia inquiry Robert Mueller uncovered that he’d carried on with secret work for pro-Putin European interests and secretly pocketed millions.
This week, his first criminal trial over those crimes is moving towards wrapping up in Virginia, and he still faces a second criminal trial in D.C. later this year. The first trial focuses on his financial crimes while the second focuses on others like conspiracy against the United States. Manafort faces a significant challenge in the still-upcoming second trial — Mueller’s team has revealed that they have over 1,000 pieces of evidence prepared to present against Manafort. That’s far more than the fewer than 400 pieces of evidence that Mueller’s team has presented as part of Manafort’s Virginia trial.
These pieces of evidence aren’t pulled out of thin air. Prosecutors didn’t fabricate them. They’re the result of Manafort’s doing, and no one else’s. That’s the whole point.
Not even the fact that he’s currently in police custody instead of on house arrest is anyone’s doing but his own. Authorities tried to let him stay on house arrest, but with new charges of attempted witness tampering against him from Mueller’s team, they couldn’t. Judge Amy Berman Jackson — who’s handling his D.C. case — sent him to jail.
So, again, no one has “done” anything to Paul Manafort.
The disgraced operative involved himself with the Trump campaign for five months — which is hardly a “very short period of time,” considering that elections don’t go on forever. Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee for president in early May of 2016, about six months before Election Day — barely more than the span of the entire period of time Manafort worked with Trump. He was campaign manager for three months, leaving in August of 2016.
Despite these facts, the Trump team has attempted the “we don’t really know Manafort” defense in the past. The now former White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed at one point while he was on the job that Manafort “played a limited role for a very limited amount of time” in Trump’s campaign.
That’s just not true, but the president’s paranoia makes him feel free to assert otherwise. Talk has lately turned to whether or not that paranoia will drive Trump to pardon Manafort — time will tell. Friday, he said he didn’t want to talk about it.
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