Paul Manafort’s lawyer got a fact check in real time during a press conference Wednesday outside a courtroom where the former Trump campaign manager received another prison sentence.
Just minutes after Judge Amy Berman Jackson handed Manafort an additional 3.5 years in prison on top of the four-year sentence he received last week, lead attorney Kevin Downing claimed outside the courtroom that Jackson “conceded that there was absolutely no evidence of any Russian collusion in this case.”
“So that makes two courts,” Downing claimed (via CNN).
“Two courts have ruled no evidence of any collusion with the Russians.”
But as hecklers waiting outside the courtroom immediately — and loudly — pointed out, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said no such thing. Neither of Manafort’s judges made any ruling related to Russia collusion, and the judge in Manafort’s first trial barred any mention of Russia during his trial, so there was no chance for it to come up. And Judge Amy Berman Jackson in her sentencing actually rebuked Manafort’s lawyers for insisting there was no collusion with Russia when there was no way to say for sure.
“The ‘no collusion’ mantra is also not accurate, because the investigation is still ongoing,” she said during sentencing.
Downing’s claim at the press conference was shouted down by the protesters, including one who repeatedly shouted, “that’s not what she said!”
“You’re a liar!” a protester also shouted.
Downing ultimately cut the remarks short as the protesters drowned out his statements, forcing him to walk off amid declaring that the sentence handed down was “callous” and unnecessarily long. Manafort faced up to 19 years in prison for his first trial and will spend no more than seven years behind bars with both sentences.
Video of the confrontation went viral on Wednesday, as many of Trump and Manafort’s critics reveled in Downing being forced to abort the press conference when protesters shouted down the false claims. Many shared the clip of protesters holding signs condemning Manafort’s work on behalf of dictators throughout his career.
Manafort’s lawyer lied that a judge found no collusion. Protesters shouted him down. https://t.co/6KhCKZl9sT— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 13, 2019
Manafort lawyer Downing speaks outside courthouse and falsely claims "two courts have ruled no evidence of any collusion with any Russians." Berman Jackson said in court that’s not true. Protestors repeatedly scream: "Liar! That's not what she said!" pic.twitter.com/95tuc1iyWA— Scott Dworkin (@funder) March 13, 2019
That didn’t stop Donald Trump from picking up on Downing’s claim, however. As his former campaign manager was sentenced to a total of several years in federal prison, Trump took to Twitter to declare that “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,” a claim that CNN deemed false.
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 8, 2019