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Trump claims vindication after Manafort's light sentence, but misstates judge's declaration

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Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks during the first meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, on March 6, 2019. -
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President Donald Trump said Friday that those involved in Paul Manafort's case affirmed there was "no collusion" with Russia and bashed special counsel Robert Mueller's probe as a "witch hunt hoax."

"Both the Judge and the lawyer in the Paul Manafort case stated loudly and for the world to hear that there was NO COLLUSION with Russia. But the Witch Hunt Hoax continues as you now add these statements to House & Senate Intelligence & Senator Burr. So bad for our Country!" Trump tweeted.

Trump's former campaign chairman was sentenced on Thursday to 47 months in prison for tax and bank fraud, far less than the sentence called for under federal sentencing guidelines.

Before announcing Manafort's light sentence, Judge T.S. Ellis, who oversaw the case, reminded the court that the longtime political operative's crimes were not related to Mueller's chief mandate — Russian election interference and whether Trump campaign officials colluded with the Kremlin.

Kevin Downing, Manafort's defense attorney, made a brief statement after the hearing ended on Thursday.

"There is absolutely no evidence that Paul Manafort was involved with any collusion with any government official from Russia," he told reporters.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is chaired by GOP Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, wrapped up its Russia investigation in February and said it uncovered no direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia after two years and 200 interviews.

House Republicans announced last year they had found no evidence of collusion, but their report came under swift criticism as a partisan result that excluded Democrats.

However, since regaining control of the House, Democrats have launched several probes that include examining any links between Russia and the Trump campaign as well as if Trump broke the law while in office. New York federal prosecutors are also pursuing their own criminal inquiry related to campaign finance violations related to hush-money payments to women at the direction of Trump.