Trump Claims Mueller Is Leading 'Phony Witch Hunt’ After Manafort Accused Of Lying

November 27, 2018 - 4:29 pm

WASHINGTON (WCBS 880/AP) — President Donald Trump took to twitter Tuesday to criticize Robert Mueller’s investigation into former campaign chairman Paul Manafort as a “Phony Witch Hunt.”

The president described Mueller as “only looking at one side and not the other” the day after Mueller’s prosecutors accused Manafort of lying and breaking his cooperation agreement with the special counsel.

Trump continued saying the investigation is doing “TREMENDOUS damage to our Criminal Justice System.”

The special counsel in the Russia investigation claimed Manafort violated his plea agreement by repeatedly lying to federal investigators.

The accusation could expose the former campaign chairman to a lengthier prison sentence — and potentially more criminal charges.

As CBS News justice reporter Paula Reid explained, it’s unclear what Manafort lied about, but special council prosecutors promised to issue a report detailing his “crimes and lies.”

“Manafort was considered the most valuable cooperating witness secured by the special counsel,” Reid explained. “He was present during the 2016 Trump Tower meeting and he would have been present for any sort of significant development between the Russians and the Trump campaign.”

However, she noted that a common theme for Manafort throughout the investigation has been lying, and all the charges he currently faces stem from over a decade of lying to the federal government.

Manafort was convicted of financial crimes in late August, marking the first major prosecution won by the Mueller team in their investigation into Russian election meddling.

On Tuesday, Trump accused the team of “ruining lives” and noted that “heroes will come of this.”

His comments renewed questioned about whether the president might pardon Manafort of his crimes. President Trump has allegedly not ruled out the possibility.

When Manafort was found guilty on eight count, including multiple counts of tax fraud, Trump declared that he felt “very badly” for his former campaign chairman and said he had “such respect for a brave man!”

Through his attorneys, Manafort denied lying, saying he "believes he provided truthful information" during a series of sessions with Mueller's investigators. He also disagreed that he breached his plea agreement. Still, both sides now agree they can't resolve the conflict, and U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson should set a date to sentence him.

Manafort already faces up to five years in prison on the two charges in his plea agreement.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)