President Donald Trump said he dropped Paul Manafort as his campaign chairman because of Manafort’s involvement with “certain nations,” according to excerpts of an interview published Saturday.
“Well, it was a friend of mine who was a businessman — a very successful businessman and a good person, and you know, Paul was not there very long,” Trump said on Sharyl Attkisson’s syndicated show “Full Measure,” which will air in full on Sunday.
He continued: “Well, I think we found out something about he may be involved with all — with certain nations, and I don’t even know exactly what it was in particular. But there was a point at which we just felt Paul would be better off — because we don’t want to have many potential conflicts.”
The President also said he doesn’t currently plan to fire special counselor Robert Mueller.
“Well, I hope he’s treating everything fairly, and if he is, I’m going to be very happy, because when you talk about innocent, I am truly not involved in any collusion with Russia,” Trump said. “Believe me, that’s the last thing I can think of to be involved in.”
Trump also said no one has told him he will be questioned by the special counsel.
“As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t been told that we’re under investigation, I’m not under investigation,” he said.
Manafort and former Trump campaign official Rick Gates surrendered Monday to Justice Department authorities following a 12-count indictment that includes charges of conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money and unregistered agent of a foreign principal. The charges precede their involvement with Trump’s campaign. The two have pleaded not guilty.
It was also revealed on Monday that former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI after he lied about his interactions with foreign officials close to the Russian government, the campaign’s clearest connection so far to Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election.