President Donald Trump on Wednesday morning insisted he had no concerns about former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s recent agreement to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller.
“If he’s honest, and he is, I think he’s going to tell — as long as he tells the truth, it’s 100 percent,” Trump said on the South Lawn of the White House.
As part of a guilty plea struck last Friday, Manafort agreed to cooperate fully with Mueller’s probe into Russian interference and whether the Trump campaign aided the Kremlin in its efforts. The cooperation deal, which includes no restrictions on what topics Manafort can discuss with Mueller’s team, was surprising to some given Manafort’s prior vows to fight the charges against him — and Trump’s praise of those efforts.
Trump on Wednesday continued to compliment his former senior campaign aide.
“He was with Ronald Reagan. He was with Bob Dole. He was with McCain. He was with many, many people,” Trump said before heading to North and South Carolina to survey damaged caused by Hurricane Florence.
“Paul Manafort was with me for a short period of time. He did a good job,” the president added. “I was very happy with the job he did. And I will tell you this, I believe that he will tell the truth. And if he tells the truth, no problem.”
Manafort’s guilty plea came after he was convicted on eight counts of bank and tax fraud in a Virginia trial and several days before he was set to face a second trial in Washington, D.C., on foreign-lobbying and money-laundering charges. The guilty plea scuttles the D.C. trial and calls for a cap on the prison sentence Manafort is expected to receive.
While Trump has publicly toyed with pardoning Manafort, he refused to engage the topic on Wednesday.
“I don’t want to talk about it now,” he said.