US President Donald Trump has said he is not concerned about what his former campaign chairman is telling investigators in the probe into the Trump presidential campaign’s ties with Russia.
Mr Trump told reporters at the White House that if Paul Manafort tells the truth to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team then he does not see a problem.
Mr Trump also batted away a question about whether he was considering a pardon for Manafort.
“I don’t want to talk about it now,” the president said.
Mr Trump’s comments come just days after Manafort ended his nearly year-long fight against Mr Mueller.
Manafort pleaded guilty to two felony charges related to his unregistered Ukrainian lobbying and millions of dollars he laundered through offshore accounts.
The plea headed off a second trial for Manafort less than a month after he was convicted on eight other counts of filing false tax returns, failing to report foreign bank accounts and bank fraud.
The plea deal provided Mr Mueller with a key co-operator in Manafort, who led the Trump campaign for several crucial months and has extensive knowledge of powerful Russian and Ukrainian businessmen heavily involved in their country’s politics.
Manafort will also be debriefed by investigators about his time on the campaign as Mr Mueller continues to investigate Russian election interference and any possible co-ordination with Trump associates.
I believe that he will tell the truth and if he tells the truth, no problemDonald Trump on Paul Manafort
Those questions will almost certainly include Manafort’s account of a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer that was attended by Donald Trump Jr and Mr Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
The meeting has drawn scrutiny because it was described to Mr Trump Jr in emails as part of a Russian government effort to help the campaign. Mr Trump Jr was told the lawyer had damaging information on Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Mr Trump Jr and the president have downplayed the meeting, saying it was a waste of time and did not amount to anything. But other attendees of the meeting have been before a grand jury used by Mr Mueller, and the special counsel has been scrutinising a public statement the president was involved in drafting when The New York Times publicly revealed the meeting in July 2017.
That statement said the meeting primarily concerned a Russian adoption programme and omitted any mention of Mr Trump Jr being promised information on Mrs Clinton.
On Wednesday, Mr Trump said he is not worried about Manafort’s cooperation.
“Paul Manafort was with me for a short period of time. He did a good job. I was, you know, very happy with the job he did,” Mr Trump said. “And I will tell you this: I believe that he will tell the truth and if he tells the truth, no problem.”