President Donald Trump thought Paul Manafort was “well-vetted” when he joined his campaign in the summer of 2016, even if hindsight might suggest that more due diligence should have taken place, former Trump communications director Anthony Scaramucci said Tuesday.
“At the time (Manafort) was a 40-year veteran of Republican conventions,” Scaramucci told CNN’s “New Day” co-host John Berman. “He had worked all the way back with Gerald Ford, I mean, so at the end of the day, the president thought he was well-vetted, or Mr. Trump thought he was well-vetted at that time. If a mistake was made, so be it.”
Manafort is on trial in Alexandria, Va., for federal charges of bank fraud and tax evasion in connection with his activities in Ukraine. His one-time protege, Rick Gates, returned to the witness stand on Tuesday, after testifying at length on Monday that he embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars himself from his former boss, and that he and Manafort committed crimes together.
On Tuesday, Gates, the government’s star witness in the case against Manafort, testified that millions of dollars had flowed from entities controlled by Ukrainian businessmen into Manafort’s bank accounts in Cyprus. He further said Manafort was paid for Ukrainian political consulting work, but his wages were classified as loans and not income.
Scaramucci, though, told Berman that Manafort didn’t do anything during the campaign “that was nefarious or would taint President (Donald) Trump. That’s my opinion based on the facts that I’ve been able to observe.”
Scaramucci only served for a few days as Trump’s communications director, but he had also been connected with the president’s campaign when Manafort and Gates were there. He said Tuesday he knew Gates better, as they worked alongside each other everyday, but he always thought Manafort treated him well.
“He is a very well organized guy,” said Scaramucci of Manafort. “If you remember going back into that time frame, the big concern for the campaign at that time was the president was winning primary after primary but was there going to be some sort of revolt at the convention, and would he lose delegates in some kind of legal rigamarole at the convention. Paul was an expert in that and he was brought in to help us with that. When Corey (Lewandowski) left, candidate Trump elevated Paul to the campaign manager.”
However, Scaramucci said that according to the reports he’s read about the case, the legal matters concerning Manafort and Gates were claimed incidents from before they joined the campaign.
“I’m sorry to see it,” he said. “I still believe that people are innocent until proven guilty. Obviously Mr. Manafort believes that he is innocent, so we have to see his side of the case, which hopefully will be as clearly and accurately reported as the prosecutor’s side of the case.”
Scaramucci on Tuesday also said he thinks it would be good advice for Trump to quit tweeting about the meeting held at Trump Tower between his oldest son, Manafort, and son-in-law Jared Kushner with Russians who has promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.
“One of the problems is when you’re out there protesting, you don’t have to be a Shakespearean scholar but when you’re out there protesting and the words does ‘thou protest too much,’ it sends a signal, why are you protesting?” said Scaramucci. “If you’re right on the facts, you don’t need to protest.”
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