President Donald Trump tore into the Mueller probe, calling it the ‘Russian witch hunt’ hours after investigators achieved their biggest conviction yet of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort while Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to charges.
He tied federal investigators to the despised ‘fake news’ as he spoke to supporters in Charleston on one of the most dramatic days of his presidency.
But Trump failed to mention either Manafort or Cohen at his rally.
Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations by coordinating with ‘Individual-1’ as he ‘worked to pay money to silence two women who had information that he believed would be detrimental to the 2016 campaign’ prosecutors charged.
Manafort was convicted by a Virginia jury on eight counts of tax and money laundering charges.
‘Fake news. Fake. How fake, how fake are they?’ Trump told the crowd. ‘Fake news and the Russian witch hunt. We got a whole big combination,’ Trump said.
Then he asked: ‘Where is the collusion? You know they’re still looking for collusion. Where is the collusion? Find some collusion. We want to find the collusion.’
Trump otherwise avoided directly speaking about the stunning developments for his White House and presidential history.
As he landed in the state Trump told reporters he feels ‘bad’ for both Cohen and Manafort. On Friday, while a Virginia jury deliberated on Manafort’s fate, he called him a ‘good person,’ and called the trial ‘sad.’
‘I must tell you that Paul Manafort is a good man, he was with Ronald Reagan, he was with a lot of different people over the years, and I feel very sad about that,’ Trump said. ‘It doesn’t involve me but I still feel… it’s a very sad thing that happened.
‘This has nothing to do with Russian collusion, this started as Russian collusion, this has absolutely nothing to do… this is a witch hunt and it’s a disgrace.’
Trump referenced Mollie Tibbetts, the 20-year-old Iowa student who was abducted and murdered. Authorities have charged Mexican immigrant Christian Bahena Rivera, 24, who is in the country illegally.
‘You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in, very sadly from Mexico, and you saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful, young woman,’ Trump said.
‘Should have never happened. Illegally in our country,’ Trump continued. ‘We’ve ha da huge impact, but the laws are so bad. The immigration laws are such a disgrace. We’re getting them changed, but we have to get more Republicans,’ Trump said.
Trump proceeded to slash at his allies, vowing to campaign across the country and tearing into rival Democrats he said were holding up his agenda.
‘The Democrat party is held hostage by the so-called resistance,’ Trump said. ‘Left wing haters and angry mobs, they’re trying to tear down our institutions, disrespect our flag, demean our law enforcement denigrate our history and disparage our great country and we’re not going to let it happen.’
Mocking the ‘resistance,’ he said: ‘Their little phrase that they like, resist. That’s all their good as – they have no policy.’
‘The Democrats want to turn America into one big fat sanctuary city for criminal aliens,’ Trump claimed. ‘Honestly, they’re more protecting of aliens, the criminal aliens than they are of the people,’ he added.
Trump lashed out at foes in all directions. He went after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has struggled to clean up comments that America was ‘never that great.’
‘America was never great – that’s the Democrats’ new theme,’ Trump said.
‘He says America was never great. I would imagine that’s career-threatening, right? I would imagine. How do you get away with that one? Did you hear?’
Trump, who compared the Mueller probe to McCarthy tactics, then said: ‘He was speaking to a room loaded up with socialists and probably others, probably others. No not communists, but there could have been a couple of them, too… They couldn’t even believe it.’
‘Now that’s job threatening. His comments are an insult to the generations of brave Americans whose blood and sweat and tears built our magnificent country.’
Trump tweeted Sunday: ‘Study the late Joseph McCarthy because we are now in the period with Mueller and his gang that makes Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!’
He tried to make Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters that face of the House Democrats, who are seeking to pry the House from GOP hands.
Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2018
‘Nancy Pelosi with Maxine waters running the House,’ Trump said, singling out the senior Black Caucus member who called to harass Trump administration members in public places.
‘Between Waters and Pelosi… they’re not in favor of West Virginia. They don’t know that West Virginia exists,’ Trump charged. ‘They don’t like coal.’
Trump went after social media for censorship – after Facebook and Twitter banned ‘Infowars’ host Alex Jones for violating their hate speech policies.
Thank you West Virginia. I love you! pic.twitter.com/K1OQ98wOh4
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2018
Even as he trashed ‘fake news,’ Trump denounced censorship. ‘I would rather have fake news… then to have anybody stopped an censored,’ Trump said.
‘We’ve got to live with fake news there are too many sources’ in the modern media landscape, said Trump. ‘You can’t have censorship.’
‘You can’t pick one person,’ Trump said. He said of ‘fake news’: ‘That’s by far the better alternative.’
He went after home-state Sen. Joe Manchin, who is engaged in a tough reelection, for voting with Democrats, even as he allowed it was possible Manchin would vote for Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh.
Speaking alongside Trump, Republican Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey promised to be a ‘big ally of this president.’ He called Manchin, among the most conservative Democrats in the Senate, a ‘dishonest liberal’ and cited his support for Hillary Clinton.
At one point during Trump’s remarks, the crowd cheered ‘drain the swamp,’ just hours after Cohen pleaded guilty to failing to disclose $4.1 million in income from tax authorities.
‘And I like Joe but Joe doesn’t vote. He just doesn’t vote for us. It’s a vote for Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, their new leader, Maxine Waters,’ Trump said.
Trump said he would hit the campaign trail ‘as many days as I can and I’m allowed to.’