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Trump tries to distance himself from Manafort

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Donald Trump speaks a rally at the Charleston Civic Center on August 21, 2018 in Charleston, West Virginia. (Photo by AFP)

US President Donald Trump has sought to distance himself from his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort who was found guilty in federal criminal investigations, saying the case “does not involve me.”

Trump said Tuesday he felt "very badly" about Manafort's conviction. However, the president stressed that the crimes Manafort was found guilty of committing had nothing to do with his work on the Trump campaign.

"Doesn’t involve me but I still feel, you know, it’s a very sad thing that happened," Trump told reporters in West Virginia.

“This has nothing to do what they started out looking for Russians involved in our campaign. There were none."

The case has raised questions about Trump’s judgment as he hired Manafort after the alleged crimes were committed.

Manafort was convicted in a federal court on eight counts of bank and tax fraud on Tuesday. He became the first campaign associate of President Trump to be found guilty by a jury as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-running investigation.

Mueller, a former FBI director, is investigating alleged collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. 

“This has nothing to do with Russian collusion," Trump reiterated. "It's a witch hunt and a disgrace."

Meanwhile, Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime lawyer, appeared to implicate Trump in a criminal conspiracy to pay hush money to women who alleged affairs with the president.

Cohen said he made payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy playmate at the behest of a political candidate in order to silence the women.

Cohen also pleaded guilty to eight felony counts of tax fraud, bank fraud and campaign finance violations. He spent years working for the Trump Organization and until recently served as the deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.




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