Trump responds to Manafort verdict: This has nothing to do with Russian collusion

  • President Trump speaks in support of Paul Manafort after the former Trump campaign chief was convicted of fraud charges.
  • But Trump was silent about Michael Cohen, his former longtime lawyer and fixer, who pleaded guilty to felonies in a separate case.
  • Cohen's lawyer says his client "stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election."

President Donald Trumpspoke in support of Paul Manafort after the former Trump former campaign chief was convicted of fraud charges, but the president was silent about the guilty plea of his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen.

"Paul Manafort is a good man. ... It doesn't involve me but it's a very sad thing. ... It had nothing to do with Russian collusion," Trump told reporters Tuesday during a campaign trip to West Virginia.

Trump pointedly ignored any mention of Cohen, who indirectly implicated Trump in two counts of felony campaign finance violations.

Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felonies in federal court for the Southern District of New York, marking the end of a monthslong saga that burst into public view in early April, when FBI agents raided the attorney's home, office and hotel room, and seized hundreds of thousands of files.

At nearly the same time on Tuesday afternoon, a jury convicted Manafort of eight of 18 counts in a case handled by special counsel Robert Mueller in Alexandria, Virginia.

The legal blows against Trump's former associates landed right before the president was scheduled to whip up a crowd of supporters in a campaign-style rally in West Virginia.

It was unclear Tuesday afternoon what the next steps would be for the president and his legal team, currently led by Trump's longtime friend, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

In a statement, Giuliani said there was "no allegation of any wrongdoing against the President in the government's charges against Mr. Cohen."

Giuliani added: "It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Mr. Cohen's actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time."

Indeed, Trump's name was not used in the lower Manhattan courtroom during Tuesday's hearing. Cohen instead made references to an unidentified "candidate," at whose direction Cohen said he paid two women for the purpose of influencing the presidential election.

But Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, had no reservations about calling out Trump by name in a statement following Cohen's appearance in court.

"This is Michael fulfilling his promise made on July 2nd to put his family and country first and tell the truth about Donald Trump," said Davis, who served in President Bill Clinton's White House. "Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election."

Davis even appeared to accuse Trump of being guilty of some of the same crimes Cohen admitted to. "If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen," Davis asked, "then why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?"