President Donald Trump declined Friday to say whether he would pardon his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, even as a jury deliberates over the 18 charges Manafort is facing related to tax and bank fraud.
“I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad, when you look at what’s going on there. I think it’s a very sad day for our country,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House for fundraisers in New York.
“He worked for me for a very short period of time,” Trump said of Manafort, a thing he says consistently to provide distance for himself and his campaign while also lamenting the situation. “He happens to be a very good person, and I think it’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort.”
Watch: Trump Stands By Security Clearance Decision
Trump also commented on his decision to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan’s clearance.
“Security clearances are very important to me, very, very important,” he said. “And I’ve had a tremendous response for having done that.”
Asked if he was attempting to silence Brennan’s criticisms of him, Trump said, “There’s no silence.”
“If anything I’m giving him an even bigger voice,” he said. “Many people don’t even know who he is. And now he has a bigger voice, and that’s OK with me because I like taking on voices like that. I never respected him.”
Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr “said it best” when he noted that if Brennan knew anything about collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, he should why didn’t he report it sooner, Trump said.
Trump also announced this week that he is evaluating the security clearance status of eight other former officials, as well as current Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr.
“I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace. I suspect I’ll be taking it away very quickly,” Trump said of Ohr’s security clearance.
Ohr’s wife Nellie worked for Fusion GPS, the firm behind the infamous dossier researching alleged connections between Trump and Russia. House committees investigating the DOJ and FBI’s conduct in investigating those connections have asked Ohr to testify when the chamber returns in September.
Ohr’s behavior is “disqualifying” for Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, Trump said, without providing details.
Trump asserted that Mueller is conflicted but seemed willing — today at least — to let him finish his investigation.
“But let him write his report,” he said. “We did nothing. There’s no collusion.”Watch: What I Saw That You Couldn't See at the Manafort Trial, Week 2