As the jury weighing the fate of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort deliberates for a second day, the president on Friday called the trial a “very sad day for our country.”
Even as the president sought to distance himself from his former campaign chairman, saying “he worked for me for a very short period of time,” the president also said he “happens to be a very good person."
"I think it's very sad what they've done to Paul Manafort," Trump said.
The president declined to answer a question about whether he might ultimately issue a presidential pardon for Manafort, saying he doesn't talk about that.
The White House has so far avoided answering questions about whether a pardon is on the table, with press secretary Sarah Sanders saying the process should be allowed to play out before any discussion of pardons. The president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said he’s advised the president that the investigation needs to conclude before any potential pardons would take place.
"My position has been, ‘I don’t want to be part of the pardon process.’ But my advice is, ‘You shouldn’t pardon anyone during the investigation or else you create a confusing situation.’ He’s bought into that,” Giuliani told the Washington Post on the topic of a potential Manafort pardon.
The president denied to ABC News’ Jonathan Karl that he is trying to silence his critics with his latest action to strip the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan and that he’s weighing doing the same for nine other individuals.
“If anything, I'm giving them a bigger voice,” the president said. “Many people don't know who he is, now he has a bigger voice. That's okay,” Trump said, apparently referencing Brennan and adding: “I've never respected him.”
The president went on to say that he suspects he’ll soon move to strip the security clearance of Bruce Ohr, a career lawyer at the Department of Justice, and also argued that special counsel Robert Mueller is highly conflicted.
“I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace. I suspect I'll be taking it away quickly. I think he's a disgrace,” Trump said. “That is disqualifying for Mueller … Mr. Mueller is highly conflicted. In fact, [James] Comey is like his best friend,” Trump said of the former FBI director.