President Donald Trump on Thursday said the FBI’s raid on the home of his former campaign chair Paul Manafort was “pretty tough” and sent “a very, very strong signal.”
“I thought it was a very, very strong signal or whatever,” Trump told reporters at his New Jersey golf club where he is on a “working vacation.”
Trump said he has not spoken to Manafort, who used to run his campaign, “in a long time,” and claimed Manafort was part of the campaign “for a very short period of time, relatively short period of time.”
“I’ve always known him to be a good man. I thought it was a very, you know — they do that very seldom, so I was surprised to see it,” Trump said. “I was very, very surprised to see it. We haven’t really been involved.”
The FBI raided Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Virginia, late last month as part of the ongoing federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion.
Fox News on Thursday reported that Trump’s attorney John Dowd emailed “a Wall Street Journal reporter who wrote about the Manafort raid” to call it “gross abuse of the judicial process,” though two WSJ reporters who wrote about the raid told TPM they had not heard from Dowd.
Asked whether he has spoken to FBI Director Christopher Wray about the raid, Trump said, “No, I have not. I have not.”
He said he “always found Paul Manafort to be a very decent man.”
“He’s like a lot of other people, probably makes consultant fees from all over the place, who knows, I don’t know,” Trump said.
He said reporters would “have to ask” the FBI “whether or not it was appropriate” to raid Manafort’s home.
“But I thought that was a very — that was pretty tough stuff,” Trump said. “To wake him up, perhaps his family was there, I think that’s pretty tough stuff.”