Trump insists Manafort guilty verdict has 'nothing to do with Russia collusion'
Shortly after the jury in the fraud case of Paul Manafort handed down a partial guilty verdict on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump attempted to distance himself from his former campaign aide.
“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort. It has nothing to do with me,” the president said outside Air Force One on his way to a rally in West Virginia.
WATCH: Manafort found guilty on eight of 18 charges; his lawyer says he is ‘evaluating all his options’
Former Trump campaign chairman Manafort was found guilty on eight out of a total of 18 bank and tax fraud charges on Tuesday after four days of deliberations. A mistrial will be declared on the remaining 10 counts, and his sentencing date has not been set.
Trump went on to say that Manafort’s case also had no connection to allegations of Russian collusion within his campaign. “Nothing to do with Russian collusion,” he said simply.
Manafort was found guilty on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of hiding foreign bank accounts. He faces a maximum of 80 years in prison.
The verdict was one of two major cases to be decided Tuesday. The Manafort verdict was handed down in Alexandria, Va., as the president’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was pleading guilty in New York to campaign finance charges arising from hush money payments made to two women who say they had sex with Trump.
Both Democrats and Republicans spoke out following the guilty verdict in Manafort’s case. Senator John Cornyn, the number two Republican in the U.S. Senate, stated on Tuesday that the verdicts do not implicate the president at all, “particularly on the Russia investigation.”
WATCH: Paul Manafort’s lawyer says former Trump campaign chair ‘happy’ jury still hasn’t reached verdict
Cornyn added that while any potential pardon of Manafort would be the decision of the president, he’d “like to see the case run its course and let the courts do their job.”
Just hours after the verdict was handed down, however, a key intelligence official has already warned Trump not to try to pardon his former campaign manager.
U.S. Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, warned Trump against pardoning Manafort.
Any attempt by the President to pardon Mr. Manafort or interfere in the investigation into his campaign would be a gross abuse of power and require immediate action by Congress.
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) August 21, 2018
“Any attempt by the President to pardon Mr. Manafort or interfere in the investigation into his campaign would be a gross abuse of power and require immediate action by Congress,” Warner, whose committee has been investigating Russia and the 2016 U.S. election campaign, said in a statement.
Trump has yet to make any statements about Cohen, who pleaded guilty to eight felony charges Tuesday, including five charges related to tax evasion, two campaign finance charges and one count of making false statements to a financial institution.
—With files from Reuters