The Latest: President Trump avoids mention of Manafort, Cohen at rally in West Virginia

Published: Aug. 21, 2018 at 4:22 PM EDT
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The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

9:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump has avoided mention of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his former personal attorney Michael Cohen at a campaign rally in Charleston, West Virginia.

The closest reference on Tuesday night came when he slammed the special counsel investigation into Russian election interference as a "witch hunt" and asked: "Where is the collusion?"

Hours before the rally, Manafort was convicted in federal court in Virginia on eight counts of financial crimes. Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court in New York to eight felonies, including breaking federal campaign finance law by arranging payments to two women who said they had sexual relationships with Trump before he became president.

Trump has denied the relationships.

Cohen says he made the payments at Trump's direction.


8:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump says living with what he calls "fake news" is preferable to censorship on social media.

At a West Virginia campaign rally Tuesday night, Trump said "social media censorship" is "the new thing." But he says he'd rather have "fake news" over having anybody "stopped and censored."

Says Trump: "So we'll live with fake news. I mean, I hate to say it ... because that's by far the better alternative."

Trump accused social media companies over the weekend of "totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices."

It comes as many outlets have banned "Infowars" conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from their platforms. Jones is being sued for saying the 2012 shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was staged.

Trump appeared on Jones' program during the 2016 campaign and praised his "amazing" reputation.


8:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump is praising the deportation of the last-known Nazi officer living in the U.S.

At a West Virginia campaign rally Tuesday, Trump said authorities had been trying "for decades" to deport 95-year-old Jakiw Palij. He says President Barack Obama tried, and presumably presidents before Obama tried, too, but also failed.

Trump celebrated that the deportation happened under his watch, saying of Palij: "He's gone. He's back in Germany."

The former Nazi concentration camp guard lived quietly in New York City for decades and was carried out of his home on a stretcher by federal agents and flown to Germany early Tuesday.

Trump also praised Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers who executed the deportation as "heroes who uphold our laws."


8 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the case of a slain Iowa college student is illustrative of the nation's disgraceful immigration laws.

Trump asked his audience at a rally Tuesday in Charleston, West Virginia, whether they had heard about the "illegal alien" from Mexico. Iowa police said earlier Tuesday that a man in the U.S. illegally has been charged with murder in the death of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts, who vanished more than a month ago while out for a run.

Trump says, "You saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful young woman. Should have never happened."

Trump adds, "The immigration laws are such a disgrace."

Trump ran on a platform of cracking down on illegal immigration to the U.S. He opened his campaign by condemning most Mexicans as criminals.


7:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump has avoided mentioning the legal troubles of two former close associates during the opening of a campaign rally in West Virginia.

Trump spent the first 20 minutes of his rally Tuesday at the Charleston Civic Center talking about ESPN and the NFL, introducing members of Congress in the audience and boosting the candidacy of Republican Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey. Morrisey is challenging Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.

Trump also discussed the November midterm elections and promised to visit West Virginia again before then.

Hours earlier, Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted of eight financial crimes. The convictions were the first stemming from the special counsel investigation into the president's associates and their ties to Russia.

Also Tuesday, Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felony counts.


7:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump says ESPN's decision to not show the national anthem before its broadcasts of "Monday Night Football" games this season is "terrible."

Trump told hundreds of supporters packed into the Charleston Civic Center in West Virginia for a campaign rally Tuesday night that "while the players are kneeling ... you're all proudly standing for our national anthem."

Trump says: "The ESPN thing was terrible."

ESPN says its decision is consistent with how it has handled similar situations in previous years.

Trump has been in a long-running dispute with the NFL over players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice. He has called players who kneel during the anthem names and says they should be punished.


7:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump is opening a West Virginia campaign rally hours after his former campaign chairman was convicted of financial crimes and his former personal attorney pleaded guilty to felonies.

Trump was greeted with a thunderous standing ovation Tuesday after taking the stage at the Charleston Civic Center.

Hours earlier, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted of eight financial crimes in the first court victory stemming from the special counsel investigation into the president's associates and their ties to Russia.

At around the same time, Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felony counts.

The charges include arranging the payment of hush money to influence the election after two women alleged sexual relationships with Trump. Cohen says he acted at Trump's direction, which Trump denies.


6 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the conviction of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on financial crimes is "a disgrace."

But he is largely ignoring his former personal attorney Michael Cohen's guilty pleas to felonies, including campaign finance violations he stated he carried out in coordination with Trump, other than to say he felt "badly for both" men.

Manafort was convicted Tuesday in Virginia on charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential obstruction of justice. Cohen pleaded guilty in New York, saying he and Trump arranged the payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model to influence the election.

Trump told reporters in West Virginia that Manafort's conviction "has nothing to do with Russian collusion." Of Manafort's crimes, he says, "It doesn't involve me."

President Trump takes the stage at the Civic Center

President Donald Trump is taking the stage at the Civic Center in Charleston for his "Make America Great Again" rally. We have live team coverage of his visit.

Posted by WSAZ NewsChannel 3 on Tuesday, August 21, 2018

UPDATE 8/21/18 @ 5:40 p.m.

Air Force One has arrived Tuesday evening at Yeager Airport, ahead of President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" rally at the Charleston Civic Center.

The event will start at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Both supporters and protesters started lining up early. Supporter John Berta said he thinks the president is doing a great job.

"He is putting people back to work," Berta said. "He's also getting the coal mines back to work. I think he's out to help all people. Look what he's done for the economy."

ORIGINAL STORY 8/21/18 @ 3:53 p.m.

In just a few hours, President Donald Trump will be in Charleston, West Virginia. This is the president's sixth overall visit to West Virginia since taking office and his third "Make America Great Again" rally in the state.

The doors to the Civic Center will open at 4 p.m. and the event will start at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

"It's time to let President Trump know we appreciate his work on behalf of hardworking West Virginians," a press release stated. "President Trump's 'America First' agenda means lower taxes, more energy jobs, a growing economy, and stronger, safer borders."

Trump is expected to talk about the EPA's Affordable Clean Energy rule -- a proposed replacement for Obama-era regulations that took a major toll on coal companies. The Trump administration moved to dismantle another major piece of former President Barack Obama's environmental legacy on Tuesday, proposing to dramatically scale back restrictions on climate-changing emissions from coal-fired power plants

The president made no direct mention of the EPA's announcement in the morning but ended a tweet about his upcoming trip by exclaiming, "CLEAN COAL!"

Gov. Jim Justice said, “President Trump has followed through on his promise to get rid of the Clean Power Plan and use American energy to fuel economic growth. The ACE rule will help West Virginia big time and will bring back energy jobs like you can’t imagine. To have this announcement on the day President Trump visits West Virginia for the sixth time is just incredible, and another testament to his commitment to helping our great state and country.”

The rally is also a chance for the president to support midterm candidates, including West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey who is running against U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, for that Senate seat.

“The EPA’s proposal represents a crucial step in restoring law and order,” Morrisey said. “The Affordable Clean Energy rule makes important strides in reversing the Obama-era Power Plan. Our coalition will closely examine the proposal and continue to support President Trump’s administration in implementing this important change to protect West Virginia coal miners and those who depend upon their success.”

Manchin said he supports the Trump administration's new energy policy and how it will help coal miners, “I have spoken out against the Clean Power Plan since day one, and I am pleased that we are closer to ending this failed policy that hurt West Virginia. I’m proud that the U.S. Senate and the House passed my resolution to roll back President Obama’s dangerous regulation. I am hopeful that this new approach from the Trump Administration will help stabilize energy jobs."

The chief operating officer for Trump's campaign, Michael Glassner, released the following statement Tuesday about the president's visit: