Things haven’t been going the White House’s way lately. On Tuesday, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was formally found guilty of eight of the charges against him, with the jury unable to reach a consensus on ten other charges. That’s a serious roadblock for the Trump administration, which had previously planned, according to CNN’s Jim Acosta, to use a not guilty verdict or an all-encompassing declaration of a mistrial in their favor.
Acosta shares on Twitter:
‘Source close to WH says WH had hoped for favorable verdict in Manafort case as they had plans to attack the Mueller investigation in the event of mistrial or not guilty verdict. The plan was to attack the Mueller investigation if the Manafort case had gone their way, source said’
The White House definitely did not get a favorable verdict on Tuesday. Manafort has already been in jail since June, and he’s going to be there for some more time considering the new verdict against him.
Trump personally responded to the ruling, telling reporters:
‘Paul Manafort’s 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 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 — this is a witch hunt and a disgrace.’
BREAKING: President Trump reacts to Manafort verdict, calls it “a very sad thing that happened. It has nothing to do with Russian collusion … I feel very badly for Paul Manafort” pic.twitter.com/tMPEqMEBU3
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 21, 2018
He has another opportunity to share his thoughts on the matter — and no doubt will be doing just that — while speaking before a crowd gathered for a rally in West Virginia on Tuesday night.
The Trump administration perpetually argues that because Manafort’s — or anyone else’s crimes — aren’t spelled out in court documents as “colluding with the Russians,” they’re irrelevant to the stated point of Special Counsel for the Russia investigation Robert Mueller’s inquiry.
However, on the one hand, they’re still crimes. Manafort is alleged to have raked in $65 million via foreign bank accounts over a recent period that he hid under a web of shell companies, faked documents, and overall fraud. He still faces a second trial in D.C. later this year covering some of the more political aspects of his work, like the “conspiracy against the United States” inherent in his intentionally concealed activities.
Additionally, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — admittedly not a favorite figure among Trump shills to begin with — specifically authorized Mueller’s team to look into crimes Manafort committed that they may have come across during the course of their inquiry.
So yeah, Trump’s contention that Manafort escaping being charged with “collusion with the Russians” means the Russia investigation has morphed into a sham — or something — doesn’t hold up. Even a not guilty verdict or all-encompassing declaration of a mistrial wouldn’t have done away with the legitimacy of the Mueller investigation as evidenced through other means. The list of other court rulings in Mueller’s favor and the list of guilty pleas he’s already obtained won’t just go away, no matter how much the president would like it to.
Featured Image via Screenshot from the Video