President Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said this week that, if anyone on Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 election, they should “go to jail for the rest of their lives.”
“I think if anybody, and I’ve said this, if Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, or Rick Gates or Carter Page, or anybody else attempted to influence the outcome of the U.S. election through any means that’s inappropriate – through collusion, coordination or cooperation – I hope they go to jail for the rest of their lives,” Lewandowski said at George Washington University on Tuesday, according to the Washington Examiner.
“It’s very simple. Our election process is too serious, our democracy is too important to allow people to try and try and have influence from the outside for their own gain,” he added.
Lewandowski’s comments came after CNN reported Tuesday that investigators had wiretapped Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, before and after the 2016 election.
According to the CNN report, the government obtained a warrant to wiretap Manafort in 2014. That warrant expired in 2016, but the FBI obtained a new one that ended in early 2017, during a period when Manafort was in contact with Trump.
Investigators were reportedly concerned that the intelligence included communications that Manafort may have encouraged the Russians to help influence the 2016 election, though two unnamed sources familiar with the matter cautioned that the evidence is not conclusive.
Manafort has emerged as a key figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
Mueller’s team has taken a series of aggressive actions against Manafort in recent months. In July, for example, the FBI conducted an early-morning raid of Manafort’s Alexandria, Va. home. Mueller has also subpoenaed the former campaign chairman’s personal spokesman and former attorney.
Trump has repeatedly denied any coordination between his campaign and Russian officials, and has called Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt.”
Lewandowski reportedly defended Trump during his appearance at GWU on Tuesday, saying that, while he was on the real estate mogul’s campaign, he never witnessed anything that would suggest coordination with the Russians.
“Never ever ever ever did I hear him say, utter, insinuate anything to do with Russia,” Lewandowski said, according to the Examiner. “He never instructed me or anybody in my immediate presence to ever be involved with Russia, never mentioned Russia collusion, coordination, cooperation, or anything of that nature ever.”
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