Trump Breaks Silence on Manafort, Deflects on Pardon

(CN) – During a scrum with reporters outside of the White House Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump broke his silence on former campaign chair Paul Manafort who last week pleaded guilty to federal charges in Washington.

Before heading to North Carolina for a briefing on damage there by Hurricane Florence, Trump said he wasn’t concerned about the outcome of Manafort’s plea.

“If he’s honest, and he is, I think he’s going to tell – as long as he tells the truth, it’s 100 percent,” Trump said.

“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 did a good job. I was, you know, very happy with the job he did,” the president said. “And I will tell you this: I believe that he will tell the truth. And if he tells the truth, no problem.”

When asked if he would consider a pardon for Manafort, Trump declined to offer any insight.

“I don’t want to talk about it now,” he said.

Manafort pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy and one count of obstruction of justice for witness tampering. A month earlier, the former lobbyist was also found guilty on eight charges of bank and tax fraud at a federal court in Virginia.

As a part of Manafort’s guilty plea in Washington, he must testify in court proceedings and before grand juries whenever his testimony is deemed relevant or necessary by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Prosecutors said they will update U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson on the level of Manafort’s cooperation by Nov. 16.

President Donald Trump meanwhile renewed his attacks Wednesday on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, telling Hill.TV: “I don’t have an attorney general.”

During an interview with the online platform, Trump says he’s “so sad over Jeff Sessions,” whom he has repeatedly denounced for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

The president said in the interview Sessions did not need to do so. But Justice Department guidelines recommended the attorney general step away because of his own contacts with Russian officials during his time with the 2016 Trump campaign.

Trump escalated his attacks beyond the recusal, saying he’s unhappy with Sessions’ performance on several issues, including “the border.”

Trump said “We’ll see what happens” with Sessions’ future. Trump allies have suggested Sessions is safe through the midterm elections.

Sessions has said his recusal was necessary.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

%d bloggers like this: