President Donald Trump on Friday praised his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort a "very good person" as juror's continue to deliberate in his trial on federal fraud charges.
"I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad," Trump said, speaking to reporters on the White House lawn as he departed for a weekend of campaign and a visit to his New Jersey golf course.
Trump also attempted to distance himself from Manafort, which drew a powerful fact-check from NBC News White House correspondent Geoff Bennett.
"We saw the president say there that Paul Manafort worked for him for a very short period of time," Bennett explained to MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi.
"We've seen the president and White House aides do this in the past where they try to minimize and rationalize the president's connections to people who have been ensnared by the Russia probe, remember how they called George Papadopoulos a 'coffee boy' when he was in fact a foreign policy advisor for the campaign," Bennett noted.
"We should point out that Manafort worked for the Trump campaign from mid-March until August 2016, it was a crucial point during the campaign, where it wasn't quite clear he wouldn't emerge as the party's nominee," he explained.
"Manafort was brought in to shore up all of the delegates, so the fact the president makes the point that Manafort didn't play that big of a role during the campaign is just not true," Bennett concluded.