Trump dodged the biggest news of the day at a raucous campaign rally

  • President Donald Trump avoided mentioning either his former campaign boss Paul Manafort, or his former longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, during a campaign rally in West Virginia on Tuesday night.
  • The rally came just hours after Manafort had been convicted of, and Cohen had pleaded guilty to, eight separate felony counts each.
President Donald Trump focused exclusively on topics besides Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen at a West Virginia rally on Tuesday night. Here he is shown speaking earlier this month in Ohio. 
Scott Olson | Getty Images
President Donald Trump focused exclusively on topics besides Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen at a West Virginia rally on Tuesday night. Here he is shown speaking earlier this month in Ohio. 

President Donald Trump avoided mentioning either his former campaign boss Paul Manafort, or his former longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, during a campaign rally in West Virginia on Tuesday night, just hours after Manafort had been convicted of, and Cohen had pleaded guilty to, eight separate felony counts each.

In New York, Cohen had pleaded guilty in federal court to five counts of tax fraud, one of bank fraud and two felony campaign finance violations. He had also implicated Trump in the campaign finance violations, testifying under oath that "a candidate" for federal office had directed him to make illicit payments to two women, payments which were intended to influence the 2016 presidential elections.

Two hundred miles south of Cohen's courtroom, in Alexandria, Virginia, Trump's former 2016 campaign chair, Paul Manafort was found guilty of eight unrelated felonies: Five counts of felony tax fraud, one count of failing to report a foreign bank account, and two counts of bank fraud.

And while Cohen did not name Trump in court — adhering to the Justice Department's policy of not naming unindicted individuals — Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis later said that Trump "directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen," Davis asked, "then why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?"

And while much of the country's news broadcasts Tuesday evening were focused on Cohen and Manafort, the two newly minted felons, Trump, for his part, took the stage in Charleston and delivered a speech that contained few clues of the catastrophic afternoon he and his presidency had endured.

Focuses on football players, NATO, Nancy Pelosi

Instead, Trump hewed closely to his typical rally script, attacking, at various times, NFL players, New York governor Andrew Cuomo, European automakers, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), NATO, the news media, China, undocumented immigrants and social media companies.

The president also made some news on the trade front, although it's not entirely clear if this was intentional. "We are going to put a tax of 25 percent on every car that comes in from the European Union," Trump said, about halfway through his more than hourlong speech.

The president delivered the auto tariff announcement in an almost off-handed way. But that didn't keep it from landing like a ton of bricks. Just a few hours before Trump's rally, his Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, had told the Wall Street Journal that these auto tariffs had beed put on hold, for as long as U.S.-European trade talks were progressing.

CNBC reached out to the White House for further clarification about the tariffs Tuesday night, but did not immediately receive a response.

'Lock her up!'

At points in the rally, Trump supporters shouted familiar slogans, including "Drain the swamp!" and a standard chant aimed at Trump's 2016 Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton: "Lock her up!"

The nation learned on Tuesday that two of Trump's formerly closest aides may be locked up instead.

In Cohen's case, a judge said the attorney would likely serve between four and six years in prison. For Manafort, that number could be much higher given that the former lobbyist will go on trial a second time later this year in Washington on a separate indictment.

But there wasn't so much from peep from Trump about any of this. If anything, Trump seemed to cut short his usual tirades against Special Counsel Robert Mueller, rather than raging against the multi-layered investigations that have cast a shadow over his presidency,

"Fake news and the Russian Witch Hunt. We've got a whole, big combination," Trump said, uttering lines that typically signal the beginning of a long missive against the Russia investigation, the Justice Department, Democrats and other perceived enemies.

But not this time. All Trump said was, "Where is the collusion? You know, they're still looking for collusion. Where is the collusion? Find some collusion. We want to find the collusion."