SUNDAY TIMES WEB DESK:Both the Judge and the lawyer in the Paul Manafort case stated loudly and for the world to hear that there was NO COLLUSION with Russia,” Trump tweeted.
Judge TS Ellis did not actually say that and neither did the lawyer for Manafort, a veteran Republican political consultant who was convicted of tax crimes and bank fraud unrelated to his work for the Trump campaign.
What the judge said before sentencing Manafort to nearly four years in prison on Thursday was that he was “not before the court for any allegations that he or anybody under his direction colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.”
Following the sentencing, Manafort’s lawyer, Kevin Downing, said there was “absolutely no evidence that Paul Manafort was involved with any collusion with any government official from Russia.”
But he did not address the wider question of whether other members of Trump’s election team may have been involved with Russia.
That is the subject of the investigation by Mueller, a former FBI director who has filed charges so far against six of Trump’s former associates.
Trump later told reporters he “feels very badly for Paul Manafort.” “I think it has been a very tough time for him,” he said.
Manafort, 69, appeared at his sentencing in a wheelchair, wearing a green prison jumpsuit and looking haggard, his once jet black hair now flecked with gray.
Trump’s remarks on Manafort contrasted sharply with what he had to say on Friday about his former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who has denounced his longtime boss as a racist, a conman and a cheat.