Speaking on BBC’s Newsnight programme, Sebastian Gorka, who served as deputy assistant to Donald Trump in 2017, defended his former boss and dismissed any claims of Trump’s collusion with Russia.
Presenter Evan Davis asked Mr Gorka if it was a coincidence that such close associates of Tump were both pleading guilty to committing crimes of financial fraud.
Mr Gorka, 47, said: “Well, I can tell you what it doesn’t mean: it doesn’t mean there is anything to do with Russian collusion, which was the mandate of the Mueller investigation.”
The former deputy presidential assistant urged viewers to remember what Paul Manafort had been found guilty of, citing a contract Mr Manafort had with Ukraine, not Russia, 12 years ago.
He said: “It’s a farrago and it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.”
The fact that Donald Trump was a client of Mr Cohen’s, or that Donald Trump hired Paul Manafort for four months, Mr Gorka argued, had nothing to do with the fact Mr Manafort hid his income from Ukraine 12 years ago.
Speaking to reporters about the Manafort conviction on his way to a campaign rally earlier today, Mr Trump said: “He was with Ronald Reagan, he was with a lot of different people over the years, and I feel very sad about that.
“It doesn’t involve me, but I still feel it’s a very sad thing that happened.”
Mr Davis raised the issue that Mr Cohen had been an associate of Mr Trump’s for much longer than four months.
He drew a link between Mr Cohen and Mr Manafort, citing how involved they had both been in Mr Trump’s election campaign, with one being the campaign manager and the other Mr Trump’s personal lawyer.
Mr Manafort, 69, was Trump’s campaign manager in 2016 and Mr Cohen, 51, was Mr Trump’s lawyer.
Mr Davis asked Mr Gorka if it was just bad luck Mr Trump mixed with “fraudsters” or if it was something more “systematic”.
In a stinging rebuttal, Mr Gorka said: “That’s a cheap shot – that’s a really cheap shot – the President of the United States is 72 years old, how many people do you think you will have known by your 72nd year?
“How many people do you think you will have worked with?
“Can you vouch for all of them, Evan?”
Asked if he accepted the jury’s verdict on the Manafort case, Mr Gorka said: “What an absurd question. It’s a farrago.
“This man was mandated on Russian collusion – Robert Mueller’s mandate was to see whether the Trump campaign in any way collaborated with the Kremlin.
“What has wire fraud and not disclosing income from Ukraine 12 years ago got to do with the 2016 election and Russia? Nothing.
“Therefore, it remains a farrago.”
Mr Gorka refused to offer any views on whether Trump would offer Mr Manafort a pardon.
And, when pressed on the Michael Cohen case, in which Mr Trump’s former lawyer stated he paid hush money to models in return for their silence, Mr Gorka said: “The idea that payment had anything to do with the campaign, again, is absurd.
“You have to look at who this man is: he has been charged with excessive campaign donations.”
The former aide to Donald Trump cited Rosie O’Donnell who he claimed paid excessive campaign donations five times and was never brought to justice.
He added: “Cohen, yes, reprehensible individual and, if he has committed crimes that have nothing to do with the Trump campaign, he should face the full extent of the law with regards to those crimes.”