President Donald Trump said today that a pre-dawn FBI raid on the Northern Virginia home of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was “a very, very strong signal, or whatever.”
Trump also said he hasn’t spoken to Manafort — the Palm Beach Gardens resident who helmed his campaign from June through August of 2016 — “for a long time.”
As part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s probe of Russian influence in the 2016 election, the FBI executed a search warrant at Manafort’s Alexandria, Va., residence on July 26, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday. There has been no indication of FBI activity at Manafort’s Palm Beach Gardens home in BallenIsles Country Club, where Manafort has a homestead exemption and is registered to vote.
Here’s a full transcript of Trump’s remarks on Manafort from a White House pool report:
“I thought it was a very, very strong signal, or whatever. I know Mr. Manafort. Haven’t spoken to him for a long time, but I know him…. I thought it was a very – you know, they do that very seldom, so I was surprised to see it. I was very, very surprised to see it….
Has he talked to Attorney General Jeff Sessions or the FBI about the Manafort raid? “I have not, but to do that early in the morning, whether or not it was appropriate you’d have to ask them. I’ve always found Paul Manafort to be a very decent man. He’s like a lot of other people, probably makes consultant fees from all over the place, who knows, I don’t know, but I thought it was pretty tough stuff to wake him up, perhaps his family was there. I think that’s pretty tough stuff.”