President Trump defended his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Wednesday, while distancing Mr. Manafort from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
The president praised Mr. Manafort by highlighting his past employment, but emphasized he only worked with the Trump campaign “for a very short time.”
Mr. Trump also accused the Justice Department of withholding information on Mr. Manafort’s investigation.
“Why didn’t [the] government tell me that he was under investigation,” he tweeted.
Mr. Trump emphasized that the charges against Mr. Manafort have nothing to do with possible collusion between Russians and Trump campaign officials, and he called the investigation “a hoax.”
Mr. Trump said “Reagan/Dole darling” Mr. Manafort is treated worse than Al Capone was because of his solitary confinement.
Kevin Downing, Mr. Manafort’s attorney, argued in June that solitary confinement was making it difficult for his client to prepare for trial. Fox News reported that the isolation was for Mr. Manafort’s safety from other prisoners.
Mr. Manafort faces the second day of his Virginia trial on Wednesday. He pleaded not guilty to 18 criminal charges, including bank and tax fraud. The former political manager will have another trial in September across the river in Washington on charges of false statements to investors and failing to register as a foreign agent.
His current legal woes will not address Mr. Manafort’s possible involvement in Russian collusion, but is seen by some as an attempt to get Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman to flip and work with Mr. Mueller.
Mr. Trump’s current lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani told CNN on Monday that Mr. Manafort doesn’t know anything that would be useful to the Mueller investigation.
• Jeff Mordock contributed to this article.