OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for Donald Trump, claims that former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team pressured him to say things that were not true when he was being investigated.
He spoke to Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday night in his first interview since he was pardoned by President Trump more than a year ago.
“From day one I felt they were targeting me and a few others to get at the then-president,” he said.
“There were moments they were putting pressure on me to talk about facts that were not true.
“The quid-pro-quo that was understood was that I was to be treated in a lenient way,” the former campaign manager said.
Paul Manafort describes why he didn't lie about Trump in exchange for his freedom. pic.twitter.com/eLX8iRTe24
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) January 13, 2022
“I wasn’t going to lie. There was no way they could force me to give up the president,” he said.
“I felt that as long as I told the truth I had nothing to fear, but I was wrong,” he said.
He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States in federal court and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice by tampering with a witness.
“I felt like I was in the middle of a tsunami and there was no way my voice was going to be heard amid all of this onslaught of this misinformation,” he said.
He said that he believed the entire investigation was designed to get Trump and getting him and Roger Stone was a means to an end.
“’There was no doubt in my mind from day one that I was a means to an end,” he said.
“After they didn’t succeed with me, they did the same with Roger Stone. They put the gag order on Roger, they indicted him too,” the 72-year-old said.
“Who they cared about was Donald Trump. And without us they didn’t think they could get to him,” he argued.
He said that he remembered laughing with his attorneys when they read stories that he was planning to backstab Trump, saying that he intended to tell the truth.
“They wanted me to say something that wasn’t true and I wasn’t going to do that,” he said.
‘Once you start going down the slippery slope, who knows where you’re going to end up.
“On the Russian collusion – I knew it was phony,” he said.
Manafort argued that “It was the weaponization of the national security system.”
“In my wildest dreams I couldn’t have imagined this,” he said.
Manafort has a book set to hit store shelves in August and his publisher, Skyhorse Publishing, has defended him.
“Not only is it untrue that Victor Yanukovych or any of Paul’s clients were ‘pro-Putin,’ it is the opposite of the truth,” the company said.
“Paul’s work in Ukraine and throughout his career was 100 percent aligned with US interests in the countries he worked in, sometimes even acting as a backchannel for the White House itself,” it said.
“Neither was Paul guilty of laundering money, evading taxes or deliberately deceiving the US government by failing to register as a foreign agent—which he wasn’t,” the publisher said.
“These were all politically motivated charges manufactured by the Special Counsel’s team for one reason and one reason only: to get Paul to testify against Donald Trump about a conspiracy that never existed,” it said.
The company has also published the books, “Disloyal,” penned by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen and “The Real Anthony Fauci” by Robert F. Kennedy.
The judge in Manafort’s case ordered him to pay $24.8 million in restitution. He also had to relinquish several properties in New York including his Trump Tower apartment.