Donald Trump has privately been praising his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, whom he once believed expendable, because of Manafort's apparent allegiance to him, according to The Daily Beast. In private conversations with friends and aides, Trump has praised Manafort for standing his ground, unlike "coward" and "rat" Michael Cohen, whom the president now loathes because of his cooperation with investigators.
Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in prison for fraud last week and is set to return to court this week to be sentenced by Judge Amy Berman Jackson for conspiring against the U.S. and a conspiracy to obstruct justice. He could face another 10 years in prison, but because of Trump's newfound admiration for his former campaign manager, he is much likelier to receive a presidential pardon from Trump.
"I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family," Trump wrote about Manafort last year. Later, he compared him to Cohen and said Manafort was a "brave man" for not "breaking" under pressure from the investigators.
"'Justice' took a 12-year-old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to 'break' -- make-up stories in order to get a 'deal.' Such respect for a brave man!"This is a departure from Trump's earlier view of Manafort, whom he reportedly berated as a nuisance and likened to an irritating stage manager. But witnessing Michael Cohen's complete surrender and evident "betrayal," Trump now holds Manafort in high regard and is open to pardoning him in case he gets sentenced.
"The president's public display of support for Manafort is reflected in private discussions, where Trump has praised 'Paul' for not being a 'rat' or 'coward.'"Trump has reportedly also been praising advisers or legal team members who have attacked the feds' treatment of Manafort.
"It's good you got them [in the press] asking questions about Paul," Trump said to his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, following one of Giuliani's media appearances. He also said that the feds were treating "Manafort like he's a terrorist, incarcerating him before trial, solitary incarceration, and repeated questioning."
Even so, observers have claimed that Paul Manafort's 47-month sentence is extremely lenient. Legal experts pointed to a number of cases where defendants have gone to jail for a much longer period despite committing relatively innocuous crimes. Others have argued that Manafort's sentencing is evidence of a deep-rooted prejudice within the American criminal justice system, which doesn't punish white collar criminals the same way it would punish an ordinary citizen.