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.
“And you know it,” Trump rambled on. “It was done and stated by the Democrats because they lost an election that they should have won, because the Electoral College it’s a big advantage for Democrats, not for Republicans. And they should have, and I ran the clock out.”
Really? Does it?
“We ran the whole thing, ran up the east coast from North Carolina to Pennsylvania,” Trump boasted, almost as if he was giving a hat tip to Manafort. “Then we go up to Wisconsin and Michigan, states that hadn’t been won for many, many years. We won those states.”
Trump then blasted the Russia investigation, headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as a “hoax.”
“And they said, how do we solve this horrible problem,” Trump retorted. “We lost an election that in theory some people — I didn’t, but some people thought they were going to win, right? And they said, I have an idea. Let’s blame Russia. It was a hoax. It was all a big hoax. Today again, no collusion. The other day, no collusion. There was no collusion.”
This is quite the hill, Donald.
Um, given what Manafort went down for, wouldn't that make Trump's possible collusion with Russia still an open question?
— David Chipman 🇨🇦♿ (@LinuxForever74) March 13, 2019
It proved members of his campaign attempted to conspire with foreign agents to influence a US election (ummm collusion). Trump can play plausible deniability all he wants but Americans associated with him are guilty of crimes.
— Trey W (@ndblackirish97) March 13, 2019
Seems comprehensive English is most difficult for Individual 1 and Manafort’s lawyer. They’re all about the politics, forget was it best for the country.
— Cathy McGinnis (@cathy_mcginnis) March 13, 2019
You might be guilty of something when all your buds, cronies, fellow cons & grifters find themselves with an extended stay deep within Club Fed.
Just saying you might want to seize the day and enjoy your next Big Mac because soon – you might eat nothing but prison pudding.
— Lars Hopeful 🌊 🌊 🌊 🌊 (@Hopeful_Lars) March 13, 2019
Trump made a similar demonstrably false claim on Thursday after Judge TS Ellis of the Eastern District of Virginia sentenced Manafort to 47 months in prison.
“Both [Manafort’s] lawyer, a very respected man, and a highly respected judge, the judge said there was no collusion with Russia,” Trump said to reporters before departing to tour tornado damage in Alabama. “It’s a collusion hoax. It’s a collusion witch hoax. I don’t collude with Russia.”
Trump is living in opposite land. What Ellis actually said was that Manafort was “not before this court for anything having to do with collusion with the Russian government to influence this election.”
Nevertheless, Trump doubled-down on his false narrative Friday morning.
“Both the Judge and the lawyer in the Paul Manafort case stated loudly and for the world to hear that there was NO COLLUSION with Russia,” Trump tweeted. “But the Witch Hunt Hoax continues as you now add these statements to House & Senate Intelligence & Senator Burr. So bad for our Country!”
Both the Judge and the lawyer in the Paul Manafort case stated loudly and for the world to hear that there was NO COLLUSION with Russia. But the Witch Hunt Hoax continues as you now add these statements to House & Senate Intelligence & Senator Burr. So bad for our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 8, 2019
And, just like today, Downing’s post-hearing remarks last Thursday were like hamberder meat for Trump.
“There is absolutely no evidence Paul Manafort worked in collusion with any government official from Russia,” Downing proclaimed.
Trump also expressed sympathy for his former campaign chair.
“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort,” Trump said. “I think it’s been a very, very tough time for him.”