Trump Deeply Hurt By Jailing Of Republican Politician Over Fraud

Trump speaks to reporters
Mr Trump

US President Donald Trump has said he feels “very bad” for his ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort, a day after he was sentenced to a prison term.

Mr Trump erroneously told reporters the judge in the case had said there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“It’s a collusion witch hoax,” the Republican president said as he left the White House.

Manafort, 69, was found guilty of tax and bank fraud.

Heading off to see tornado damage in the US state of Alabama, the president again denied his campaign had colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 White House election.

“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort,” Mr Trump told reporters. “I think it’s been a very, very tough time for him.”

Former lobbyist Manafort was convicted last year of hiding from US tax authorities $55m (£42m) that he was paid for political consulting on behalf of pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine.

At a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, he was sentenced to 47 months in prison and told to pay $24m in restitution and a $50,000 fine.

Manafort is due to be sentenced in another case next week related to his illegal lobbying.

During Thursday’s sentencing, Judge TS Ellis told the hearing: “He [Manafort] is not before the court for anything having to do with colluding with the Russian government.”

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as his campaign manager Paul Manafort (C) and daughter Ivanka (R) look on at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, in July 2016
Donald Trump at the Republican convention in July 2016

That led to Mr Trump claiming vindication on Friday morning, wrongly asserting that the judge had gone further and ruled out any collusion.

The Republican president told reporters he felt “very honoured” by the comments.

“The judge said there was no collusion with Russia,” said Mr Trump. “This had nothing to do with collusion.

“There is no collusion. It’s a collusion hoax, it’s a collusion witch hoax.”

“I don’t collude with Russia,” he added.

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