President Trump spoke at a rally in West Virginia Tuesday evening for Republican Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey. The event took place just a few hours after his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was convicted on eight counts of bank fraud and Mr. Trump's longtime fixer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to eight charges, including campaign finance violations.
He addressed the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election briefly, calling it the "Russian witch hunt."
"Where is the collusion?" the president asked.
Before Mr. Trump spoke at the rally, he weighed in on Manafort's partial conviction, telling reporters he feels "very badly" for him. But the president also said that the charges had "nothing to do with Russian collusion," which he called "a witch hunt and a disgrace." He called Manafort a "good man."
Meanwhile, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felony charges that included tax fraud and campaign finance violations. Cohen also admitted to having violated campaign law at the direction of Mr. Trump.
But Manafort and Cohen were not the only people with ties to the president who faced legal woes Tuesday. Late in the day, Rep. Duncan Hunter, one of Mr. Trump's earliest supporters in Congress, was indicted on federal charges for allegedly using campaign funds for personal expenses.
Trump finishes speech without mentioning Manafort, Cohen
Mr. Trump did not react to the news about Manafort or Cohen in his speech, but instead delivered more of what amounted to a greatest hits compilation. He discussed issues popular with his base -- namely immigration, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and boasting about the state of the economy. He appealed to the West Virginia crowd by repeatedly referring to the coal industry, which is a critical sector of West Virginia's economy.
Ultimately, the rally did not offer new insights into the president's thinking on the fate of his former campaign chairman and his former personal lawyer.
Mr. Trump only briefly mentioned the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election about halfway through his speech.
"Fake news and the Russian witch hunt," he said. "Where is the collusion? Find the collusion."
Mr. Trump has vehemently denied collusion between his campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. He did not mention Manafort or Cohen by name.
Trump talks relationship with Kim, NATO members
Mr. Trump said that his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June was a success.
"Maybe it'll work out, but I think we've done a good job," he said. He referred to his former nickname for Kim, "rocket man," by coyly referring to Elton John, but did not say the words because he didn't "want to insult."
He also pushed back against criticism that he had been disrespectful to members of NATO by asking member countries to increase military spending. He repeated a conversation he supposedly had while meeting with NATO members, presumably when members met in July.
"Somebody said sir - there's a president of a country calling me sir - that shows respect, 'Would you leave us if we don't pay our bills?' I said yeah, I would have to consider it," Mr. Trump said. "And you could see those checkbooks coming out for billions of dollars."
The president claimed that NATO countries owed the United States years of back payments. In fact, NATO members do not owe the United States, although some members have not been dedicating a full 2 percent of GDP on defense by 2024.
Trump mentions arrest in Mollie Tibbetts case
The president made immigration a centerpiece of the November elections, saying that a Democratic majority in Congress would "turn America into one big fat sanctuary city for criminal aliens."
Mr. Trump also said that work on the border wall was already beginning, with over $3 billion dedicated to its production. The president requested that amount for the wall in his budget, but the Senate has only included half that amount in its budget.
He also mentioned Mollie Tibbetts, a young woman from Iowa who was found dead Tuesday, and who police suspect was killed by an immigrant in the country illegally.
"A blue wave in November means open borders, which means massive crime," Mr. Trump said. "A red wave means security."
Trump rebrands the Democratic Party
Mr. Trump described November's elections as critically important, saying that Morrisey needed to be elected so he could continue his agenda. He knocked the leadership of the Democratic Party in Congress, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, while also calling Rep. Maxine Waters a leader of the party.
The president said that the Democrat's "new theme" was that "America was never great."
"That's going to be their theme now: America was never great," Mr. Trump said. "Or you could vote proudly for everything we stand for."
Trump brings Morrisey to the stage
Mr. Trump introduced Morrisey on stage early in the rally, lowering the microphone for the candidate as he took the podium.
"West Virginia needs to send a conservative fighter to the Senate to drain the swamp," Morrisey said, inspiring chants of "drain the swamp!"
Morrisey called his opponent "dishonest, liberal Joe Manchin." He jabbed Manchin for voting for his party's presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, in 2016, even after she had said she was going to put coal miners "out of work."
Morrisey criticized Manchin for his support of "radical" gun control, Planned Parenthood, and he opposed the Trump-supported tax cuts.
He repeated the word "amen" after complimenting Mr. Trump three times.
Mr. Trump returned the affection when he resumed the podium.
"A vote for Patrick Morrisey is truly a vote to Make America Great Again," Mr. Trump said.
Trump touts his administration's support for coal
Mr. Trump began the rally by touting his administration's support for the coal industry. The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Tuesday that it would be rolling back Obama-era regulations on coal plants.
"We love clean, beautiful West Virginia coal," Mr. Trump said at the rally.
"You can blow up those windmills, they go down real quick," Mr. Trump said, comparing coal to other forms of energy. "You can do a lot of things to those solar panels, but you know what you can't hurt? Coal."
Democrat is leading Trump-backed Republican in West Virginia
Mr. Trump's trip to West Virginia is his latest campaign appearance in the midterm elections.
Morrisey is running against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who is considered to be one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the Senate. West Virginia voted for Mr. Trump by 40 percentage points in 2016. Nonetheless, a recent poll showed Manchin leading Morrisey by nine percentage points.
Mr. Trump tweeted his support of Morrisey Tuesday morning: "Big Rally tonight in West Virginia. Patrick Morrisey is running a GREAT race for U.S. Senate. I have done so much for West Virginia, against all odds, and having Patrick, a real fighter, by my side, would make things so much easier. See you later. CLEAN COAL!!!!"
Trump tweets about the Russia investigation
West Virginians did not hear more from Mr. Trump about the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election, despite today's verdict in the case. Mueller's legal team brought the charges against Manafort. Mr. Trump tweeted about the investigation multiple times on Monday. He responded to a report over the weekend which said that White House counsel Don McGahn was cooperating "extensively" with the special counsel's probe into whether President Trump has obstructed justice.
"Disgraced and discredited Bob Mueller and his whole group of Angry Democrat Thugs spent over 30 hours with the White House Councel, only with my approval, for purposes of transparency," Mr. Trump tweeted.