"It’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort,” President Trump says as jury deliberates on fraud charges against the former Trump campaign manager. pic.twitter.com/TysanZoXJ1— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 17, 2018
President Donald Trump publicly sided with Paul Manafort as a jury was in the process of deciding his fate. The former Trump campaign chair was accused of various charges ranging from money laundering to acting as an unregistered agent of Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government and conspiracy against the United States.
However, the jury deliberations didn’t stop Trump from painting Manafort as a “very good person,” claiming his fraud trial was “very sad.” POTUS’ behavior suggests he doesn’t really care much about the 18 bank and tax fraud charges filed against Manafort by the federal prosecutors.
Manafort’s fraud trial is the first courtroom test of the Russia probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller and Trump has been a vocal critic of the probe since then.
“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,” Trump said about his former campaign chair who is facing charges that could imprison him for life.
When reporters asked the president if he would consider a presidential pardon, he said “I don't talk about that.”
After Trump bolstered praises for Manafort at the second day of jury deliberations, his lawyer Kevin Downing thanked the president for the support. “We're very happy to hear from the president and that he's supporting Mr. Manafort,” said Downing.
According to U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance Trump’s comments of praise for Manafort was a “strategic message”. Apparently, Trump is signaling Manafort that he can be rewarded with a presidential pardon if he keeps quite, explained Vance.
Meanwhile, attorneys for Manafort claimed in a 90-minute closing statement that their client was a victim of his close associate Rick Gates.
However, Gates has already testified of being involved with former Trump campaign manager, in various crimes, such as doctoring financial documents, lying to banks for loans and committing tax fraud — all at Manafort's discretion.
The second day of jury deliberations came to an end half an hour before time because one of the jurors had to attend an event. The jury did not reach a verdict and the trial will continue on Monday.
Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: Reuters, Yuri Gripas