Trump says 'I feel very badly' after Paul Manafort was sentenced to more prison time

WASHINGTON — President Trump expressed sympathy for his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort after he received a second federal prison sentence on Wednesday. Though Trump described the situation as “very sad,” he said he had not thought about pardoning Manafort and was not aware of new charges filed in New York state.

“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort,” Trump said before going on to note his former staffer’s work for other prominent Republicans.

“I think it’s a very sad situation,” Trump added. “Certainly, on a human basis, it’s a very sad thing.”

The president addressed Manafort’s case in response to questions from reporters at the White House, where he was holding a briefing on drug trafficking along the southern border. Trump’s appearance came a few hours after a federal judge in Washington sentenced Manafort to 73 months on two conspiracy counts stemming from numerous crimes, including failing to register for his foreign lobbying work and witness tampering. The judge’s ruling came one week after a federal judge in Virginia sentenced Manafort to 47 months for financial crimes related to his lobbying work in Ukraine.

In total, Manafort is set to spend up to seven and a half years in prison because the first 30 months of both sentences will overlap. He could be released earlier based on credit for time served and good behavior.

In response to a question about whether the president would consider a pardon that could spare Manafort from prison, Trump said, “I have not even given it a thought as of this moment. It’s not something that’s right now on my mind. I do feel badly for Paul Manafort. That I can tell you.”

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Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort through the years
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Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort through the years
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign chair and convention manager Paul Manafort speaks at a press conference at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as his campaign manager Paul Manafort (C) and daughter Ivanka (R) look on during Trump's walk through at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign chair and convention manager Paul Manafort appears at a press conference at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort talks to the media from the Trump family box on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Paul Manafort, senior advisor to Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, smiles as he talks with other Trump campaign staff after Trump spoke to supporters following the results of the Indiana state primary, at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump's senior campaign adviser Paul Manafort (L) walks into a reception with former Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, at the Republican National Committee Spring Meeting at the Diplomat Resort in Hollywood, Florida, April 21, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 21: Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort listens to Ivanka Trump speak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 21, 2016. (Photo by Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 20: A man with a security credential takes a selfie at the podium as Donald Trump, flanked by campaign manager Paul Manafort and daughter Ivanka, checks the podium early Thursday afternoon in preparation for accepting the GOP nomination to be President at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on Wednesday July 20, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 19: Paul Manafort, advisor to Donald Trump, is seen on the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 19, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Paul Manafort., Convention Manager, Trump Campaign, appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday April 10, 2016. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NA.R.DoleMicCk1.081596.RG.Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole looks up from podium at balloons and television cameras as convention center manager Paul Manafort, at right, points out preparations for tonight's acceptance speech in San Diego, 08/15/96. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 21: Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Lee Atwater, young Republicans political operatives who have set up lobbying firms. (Photo by Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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Yet even if Trump were to pardon Manafort for federal crimes, his former campaign manager could end up in prison based on state charges, which would be beyond the president’s purview.

Shortly after Manafort received his second sentence on Wednesday afternoon, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced he was charging the president’s former campaign chair with mortgage fraud and more than a dozen state felonies in New York.

In a news release about the charges against Manafort, Vance suggested they were designed to prevent him from escaping punishment.

“No one is beyond the law in New York,” Vance said.

Trump was also asked about the state charges by reporters at the White House.

“I don’t know about that,” Trump said.

At his sentencing in Washington, Manafort apologized and requested leniency, pointing out that he is 70 and that his wife is also a senior citizen.

“Please let my wife and I be together,” Manafort pleaded.

The federal charges against Manafort came out of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian intervention in the 2016 election. That probe has led to convictions against several former Trump campaign aides. Trump has repeatedly dismissed the Mueller investigation as a witch hunt. The president has also repeatedly claimed there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia.

As she sentenced Manafort in Washington, Judge Amy Berman Jackson noted that the issue of “collusion … was not presented in this case.”

The judge indicated she was not satisfied with Manafort’s apology and accused him of trying to avoid punishment, including through his outreach to witnesses. She criticized the defense’s efforts to say Manafort’s conduct, which was not directly related to his work on the Trump campaign, was uncovered only through the Mueller probe. Jackson also chided Manafort’s attorneys for noting that Mueller didn’t prove collusion in the case and said the phrase “no collusion” is “simply a non sequitur.”

One of Manafort’s lawyers, Kevin Downing, nevertheless attempted to revive the argument as he spoke to reporters outside the courthouse.

“Two courts have ruled no evidence of any collusion with the Russians,” Downing said.

His remarks led to loud heckling from nearby protesters, who shouted “Liar!” and “That’s not what she said!”

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