- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 22, 2019

Conservative talk show host Sean Hannity and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort railed against special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in a series of text exchanges released late Friday.

The 56 pages of messages which span from July 2017 to June 2018 were made public by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. The exchanges start roughly two months after Mr. Mueller’s appointment and end just weeks before Manafort was convicted of bank and tax fraud in a Virginia court.

The messages were filed under seal in February as an attachment in a sentencing memo in the Manafort case. Judge Jackson ordered them released Friday. Both men’s names are redacted in the documents, but logs of the later messages show their names.

Mr. Hannity, in a statement, said the messages don’t reveal anything new.

“My view of the special counsel investigation and the treatment of Paul Manafort were made clear every day to anyone who listens to my radio show or watches my TV show,” he said.

Roughly one week after the FBI raided Manafort’s home, Mr. Hannity texted him, “Please know you are in my prayers.”

“Thank you. I need them,” Manafort replied. “I feel so violated.”

Mr. Hannity texted back telling Manafort to “stand tall and strong” and asking whether he wanted to grab dinner to vent or strategize.

In later texts, the two assail Mr. Mueller and the Justice Department, Mr. Hannity saying Manafort had become “road kill” in their bid to undermine President Trump.

They repeatedly assail Mr. Mueller’s top prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, who built the case against Manafort. In one exchange, Mr. Hannity describes him as a “piece of [expletive]” and says he should be dismissed from the Mueller team, citing a book by conservative author Sidney Powell.

In another exchange, Manafort calls Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors “self [righteous] criminals.” Manafort says they are pressuring him to “give up DT or family,” including “JK,” apparent references to Donald Trump and Jared Kushner.

“They would want me to give up Dt or family, esp JK. I would never do that,” Manafort texted. He later adds that they “did nothing,” but prosecutors “will want me to make [expletive] up on both.”

“I understand how corrupt this system is,” Mr. Hannity texted, before going into screaming all-capital letters. “HRC nothing, a national disgrace. Always here.”

Mr. Hannity also details his efforts to defend the president, saying he hired a staff to push back against “firing and boycotts.”

“There has never been a time 30 years radio 22 on Fox where I felt a bullseye at my head every single day. It’s an attempted kill shot a day,” Mr. Hannity texted. “And Paul, like u, I don’t give [expletive] about me. I do care about this amazing country that is soooo soon off cause and experience unreal corruption.”

In other text exchanges, the pair express sympathy for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who later pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. Manafort also requests that Mr. Hannity plug his legal defense fund on his Fox News show, but Mr. Hannity bristles, saying that he needs clearance from the network.

Manafort was sentenced to a total of 7.5 years in prison. He was convicted of financial fraud charges in Virginia and later pleaded guilty to violating foreign lobbying laws.

Manafort is now serving his sentence in a Manhattan federal prison while he awaits arraignment on new mortgage-fraud charges in New York.

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