President Trump ranted for 90 minutes onstage in West Virginia Tuesday night without once mentioning his two top campaign advisers who were found guilty of crimes just hours earlier.
Speaking at a campaign rally featuring Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey (R), Trump carefully avoided his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s guilty verdict on eight counts, former Trump attorney and consigliere Michael Cohen’s guilty plea, and Cohen’s implication in court that Trump was involved in encouraging illegal in-kind campaign contributions to cover up his alleged affairs.
Even Trump’s normal attacks on the “fake news” and the Russian “witch hunt” seemed toned down in comparison to his normal fury.
“Fake news and the Russian witch hunt. We’ve got a whole big combination. Where is the collusion? You know, they’re still looking for collusion. Find some collusion,” he said in his closest allusion to the legal jeopardy that his close aides found themselves in — and the fact that Cohen may be about to turn on his old boss.
The crowd seemed willfully ignorant of the latest bombshells landing on the White House, un-ironically chanting “lock her up” at the rally.
Trump called Manafort a “good man” in brief remarks to reporters as he headed to the rally, while arguing that his former campaign manager’s guilty verdict on several counts had nothing to do with him.
But the president ignored Cohen’s guilty plea and his implication that Trump asked him to break campaign finance law to pay two women to keep quiet about their alleged affairs with him. He has yet to comment on the plea, which Cohen attorney Lanny Davis said made clear that Trump “directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election.”
During the rally, the only news of the day Trump was willing to talk about was the undocumented immigrant who was charged with murdering a woman in Iowa earlier in the day.
“You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in very sadly from Mexico and you saw what happened to that incredible beautiful woman,” he said.
Past that, it was all Trump’s standard red-meat: “Build the wall,” “space force,” rehashing the 2016 election, and compliments to local GOP officials, including “the largest, most beautiful man, Gov. Big Jim Justice.”