President Donald Trump defended Paul Manafort on Friday, telling reporters that the case against his former campaign chairman is “very sad.”
Trump also refused to say whether he would consider pardoning Manafort if he is convicted of tax fraud and foreign lobbying violations.
“It’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort,” Trump told reporters before boarding Marine 1.
A federal jury in Virginia is deliberating whether to convict Manafort of tax fraud for failing to report income he made on consulting work he did for former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort is also scheduled to go to trial in September in Washington, D.C., to face charges of failing to register with the Department of Justice as a foreign agent for the Yanukovych work.
Prosecutors with the special counsel’s office have yet to link the cases against Manafort to his work on the Trump campaign. Manafort, a longtime Republican political operative, joined the Trump campaign in April 2016 and left in August 2016.
“He worked for me for a very short time,” Trump said of Manafort on Friday, adding that he “happens to be a very good person.”
Asked whether he would pardon Manafort, Trump told a reporter: “I don’t talk about that now.”
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