President Donald Trump defended his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, in a speech to the NRA in Dallas, Texas, Friday afternoon.
Trump’s comments come after a federal Judge in Manafort’s case expressed deep skepticism of special counsel Robert Mueller’s bank fraud case against Manafort, during a court hearing Friday morning. Trump cited a CNN article, written hours before his speech, with the headline, “Judge In Manafort Case Says Mueller’s Aim Is To Hurt Trump.”
“On CNN, they have a headline, ‘Judge in Manafort case says Mueller’s aim is to hurt Trump.’ You believe that? This is what we’re up — it is called the witch hunt. So I just said, ‘Give me that article. I want to read it.’ …just happened a few minutes before I walked on stage,” Trump said.
“A federal judge Friday questioned Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s authority to bring tax and bank fraud charges, unrelated — unrelated — nobody knows that. Everyone thinks, ‘oh — unrelated to the 2016 election against former trump campaign manager, chairman Paul Manafort,'” the president continued.
Although Manafort only worked for him for a short period of time, Trump believes he is “a good person,” the commander-in-chief added. The president also credited the federal judge, U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, for making the statements to the special counsel. (RELATED: Federal Judge Casts Doubt On Mueller’s Case Against Manafort)
“He was there for a short while. But he is a good person. He really is. I believe he is a good person. Judge T.S. Ellis, who is really something very special — I hear from many standpoints. He is a respected person — suggested the charges before the U.S. district court for the eastern district of Virginia were just part of the Mueller team’s designs to pressure Mr. Manafort into giving up information on President Donald Trump or others in the campaign.”
The president then called the entire investigation a “witch hunt” and said he loves “fighting these battles.”
“I’ve been saying that for a long time. It is a witch hunt. None of that information has to do with information related to the Russian government coordination and the campaign of Donald Trump. Doesn’t have anything to do. It’s from years before,” Trump continued. “‘Then how does this have anything to do with the campaign?’ The judge asked. Let me tell you, folks. We’re all fighting battles, but I love fighting these battles. It’s really a disgrace.”
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