President Donald Trump on Wednesday falsely asserted that the judge in Paul Manafort’s Virginia sentencing hearing vindicated his assertions that there was “no collusion” between his presidential campaign and Russia.
Manafort was sentenced to 43 months in prison for fraud unrelated to Russian collusion.
Ranting to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump dredged up his usual trope about how there was no collusion and that it was the Democrats who… well, you know.
“I can only tell you one thing, again, that was proven today. No collusion. There’s no collusion,” Trump said. “There’s no collusion and there hasn’t been collusion and it was all a big hoax.”
Trump, who is president despite receiving 2.87 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton, complains that "the Electoral College is a big advantage for Democrats, not for Republicans." pic.twitter.com/rGUwil2DyN
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 13, 2019
Trump was parroting Manafort’s lawyer, Kevin Downing, who immediately after the hearing told reporters:
“For anyone who was in the courtroom today, what I’m about to say will not be a surprise: Judge Jackson conceded that there was absolutely no evidence of any Russian collusion in this case. So that makes two courts — two courts have ruled no evidence of any collusion with any Russians.”
Downing was shouted down by protesters screaming, “LIAR! THAT’S NOT WHAT SHE SAID!”
Kevin Downing, Paul Manafort's attorney with an audience of one, being disingenuous saying Judge Jackson said there was "no collusion."
Protestors rightly heckle and say "LIAR, THAT'S NOT WHAT SHE SAID!" pic.twitter.com/ocS3LSkuVz
— Erick Fernandez (@ErickFernandez) March 13, 2019
The protesters were correct. Trump and Downing are flat out lying. Full stop.
Here is what US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in DC said at Manafort’s sentencing hearing:
“The ‘no collusion’ refrain that runs through the entire defense memorandum is unrelated to matters at hand. The ‘no collusion’ mantra is simply a non sequitur.”
In fact, Jackson’s remarks were the polar opposite of what Trump is claiming:
“The ‘no collusion’ mantra is also not accurate, because the investigation is still ongoing.”
Some believe Manafort is hoping for a presidential pardon.
Another sentencing, another statement by Manafort’s lawyer repeating Trump’s mantra of “no collusion,” and another barely concealed appeal for a pardon.
It shouldn’t fall to the Manhattan DA to deter a presidential pardon. Congress should take action to protect the rule of law.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 13, 2019
You know what? If Paul Manafort really wanted to accept responsibility for his actions, he'd declare at his sentencing hearing that he will not accept any pardon from Trump. This is a man who has aided monsters around the world for years and done everything to angle for a pardon.
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) March 13, 2019
Trump saying he hasn’t “even given [a Manafort pardon] a thought” is both not a denial that he’d do it and also literally untrue. In formulating the answer to the question of whether he’d pardon Manafort, he obviously had to think of the proposition.
— Sam Stein (@samstein) March 13, 2019
More like proof PM refused to cooperate in hope of getting a pardon.
— bruce ellers (@bereasonable2) March 13, 2019
Trump said he has “not given it a thought.”
A few minutes after Jackson handed down her sentence, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance indicted Manafort on 16 state charges relating to fraud and conspiracy. Presidential pardons cannot be applied to state crimes.
As the White House gaggle continued, Trump reverted to stale humblebrags about his Electoral College victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Note that Manafort was chair of the Trump campaign from May 19 to August 19, 2016.