President Donald Trump speaks to supporters Tuesday night at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, West Virginia. At the rally, he repeatedly insisted his campaign did not collude with Russia before the 2016 election. Photo by Mark Lyons/EPA-EFE
Aug. 22 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Wednesday addressed both former associates who are now guilty of various crimes -- praising one and lashing out at the other.
At a rally in West Virginia late Tuesday and on Twitter Wednesday, the president commended former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was convicted in Virginia on fraud charges.
"I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family," he tweeted. "'Justice' took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to 'break' -- make up stories in order to get a 'deal.' Such respect for a brave man!"
Trump's words came a day after Manafort was convicted on eight of 18 counts at his fraud trial.
In West Virginia, Trump echoed those words, calling Manafort a "good man" who worked for previous Republican presidential candidates Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole.
"He was with a lot of different people over the years and I feel very sad about that," he said. "Doesn't involve me but I still feel, you know, it's a very sad thing that happened. Had nothing to do with Russian collusion. We continue the witch hunt."
He was less complimentary of Cohen, who pleaded guilty to eight counts Tuesday, including tax evasion.
"If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don't retain the services of Michael Cohen!," Trump tweeted Wednesday.
Cohen has indicated that he plans to cooperate with the Justice Department's Russia investigation, and has suggested he has information about Trump that would be useful to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe.
Trump didn't mention Cohen at the West Virginia rally Tuesday night in Charleston for Republican Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey, but again denounced the Russia inquiry and coverage by news media.
"Fake news. How fake are they?" he said, pointing to news cameras at the back of the Charleston Convention Center. "Fake news and the Russian witch hunt. We've got a whole, big combination.
"Where is the collusion? You know, they're still looking for collusion! Where is the collusion? Find some collusion. We want to find the collusion."
Later, Trump met with supporters for a fundraiser and held a 75-minute rally for Morrisey, the GOP senate candidate challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who has often aligned with Trump and Republicans as a representative of the coal-rich state.
Trump is scheduled to appear at several "Make America Great Again" rallies and more than a dozen fundraisers in the next six weeks.
In his visit, Trump touched on other issues -- like ESPN opting not to broadcast the national anthem before football games and players who kneel in protest.
"So, while the players are kneeling, some of them, not all, you're all proudly standing for our national anthem," Trump said. "Under our administration, America is winning again and America is being respected again all over the world. All over the world it's America first."
His visit to coal country came on the same day his Environmental Protection Agency moved to scrap an Obama-era rule that would have placed limits on emissions at coal plants. Trump has long praised fossil fuels and pledged to revive the coal industry in the United States, a position that's drawn widespread international criticism.
"We love clean, beautiful West Virginia coal," Trump said. "We love it."