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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

 

n response to the news that President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was indicted for, among other things, money laundering and acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, Trump tweeted a Fox News talking point that Manafort’s alleged criminal activity occurred before he joined the campaign. But the first page of the indictment states that in an attempt to hide payments he received from Ukraine, Manafort was laundering money at least through the election year;  Manafort served as Trump’s campaign manager between March and August 2016.

The first page of the indictment reads (emphasis added):

MANAFORT and GATES generated tens of millions of dollars in income as a result of their Ukraine work. In order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities, from approximately 2006 through at least 2016, MANAFORT and GATES laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts.

Trump falsely claimed on Twitter that Manafort’s alleged criminal actions didn’t occur during his time with the campaign:

Fox News had repeated this false talking point several times prior to Trump’s tweet. On Fox & Friends earlier this morning, co-host Steve Doocy commented that Manafort had “some suspicious wire transfers back in 2012, 2013, many years before he joined Trump.” Doocy later seemed to suggest the White House adopt the talking point that Trump eventually tweeted: “But ultimately, I would imagine the people in the White House are going to start talking later today about, ‘Well, if that’s all they’ve got, something — the guy who ran the campaign last year, something he did 5, 10 years earlier, we’re OK.’”

It’s been well documented that Trump regularly watches Fox’s morning programming. Even this morning, before details of Manafort’s indictment were reported, Trump tweeted his thanks to a guest on Fox & Friendsfor his performance on the show.

The same talking point was repeated later on Fox News, before Trump’s tweet. On America’s NewsroomFox contributor Byron York said, “These are all alleged crimes that, if they took place, took place years before he joined the Trump campaign.” A few minutes later, Fox guest David Hoppe said the indictment “is for things that happened well before Paul Manafort was ever involved with the Trump campaign.”

Some Fox personalities also shared this talking point on Twitter prior to Trump’s tweet:

Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters