Trump demands end ‘right now’
US PRESIDENT Donald Trump has called on Attorney-General Jeff Sessions to "stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now" as his former campaign chair Paul Manafort entered the second day of his federal trial on charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller.
"This is a terrible situation and Attorney-General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further," Mr Trump wrote on Twitter. "Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!"
The New York Post reported that Mr Trump has long expressed his frustration with Mr Sessions, who recused himself from the Mueller investigation, and has said he would have picked someone else as his Attorney-General if he had known Mr Sessions intended to do so.
Mr Sessions removed himself from the investigation after it was revealed that he met with a Russian ambassador during the campaign.
Mr Mueller is examining Mr Trump's tweets and communications with Mr Sessions and former FBI Director James Comey to determine whether the president pressured them to end the Mueller investigation, actions that could be considered obstruction of justice, The New York Times reported on Sunday.
Mr Manafort is on trial in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, facing bank and tax fraud charges that allege he funnelled millions of dollars into the US from Ukraine when he worked for a Kremlin-connected politician in the early 2000s.
Mr Trump began the day by trying to distance himself from Mr Manafort, a longtime political operative who worked for the Trump campaign for five months in 2016
"Paul Manafort worked for Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other highly prominent and respected political leaders. He worked for me for a very short time. Why didn't government tell me that he was under investigation. These old charges have nothing to do with Collusion - a Hoax!," Mr Trump wrote.
But, by day's end, Mr Trump was saying that Mr Manafort, who is currently in solitary confinement, was being treated worse than notorious gangster Al Capone.
He also tried to steer the conversation back to Hillary Clinton, saying it was the Democrats who tried to seek dirt from the Russians during the 2016 election campaign.
DAY TWO OF PAUL MANAFORT'S TRIAL
The judge in Mr Manafort's trial told prosecutors this morning not to use the word "oligarch" to describe wealthy Ukrainians who paid millions to the former Trump campaign chairman.
Mr Manafort is accused of orchestrating a multimillion-dollar conspiracy to evade US tax and banking laws. His defence lawyers say he isn't to blame because he left the details of his finances to others.
US District Judge T.S. Ellis III told lawyers for special counsel Mr Mueller that the term "oligarchs" has a pejorative meaning and using it is not relevant to the fraud and tax charges against Mr Manafort.
He cautioned them that the term could imply that Mr Manafort was associating with "despicable people and therefore he's despicable."
"That's not the American way," the judge added.
The proceedings could last weeks.
Assistant US Attorney Uzo Asonye surprised those watching the Manafort trial this morning when he vaguely suggested that Richard Gates, Mr Manafort's former business partner, might not testify.
Mr Gates was expected to be prosecutors' star witness, a man who could describe the fraud which the government said Mr Manafort perpetrated because he was a part of it.
He has also been the focus of Mr Manafort's lawyers, as they say Mr Gates embezzled money from Mr Manafort's company and committed fraud to cover his own tracks.
US SLAPS SANCTIONS ON TURKEY OVER DETAINED PASTOR
It comes as the US Treasury Department on Wednesday hit Turkey's justice and interior ministers with sanctions over the case of an American pastor being tried on terror charges.
"We believe he's a victim of unfair and unjust attention by the government of Turkey," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told journalists, referring to Andrew Brunson, an American pastor at the centre of a bitter diplomatic spat between NATO allies.
Brunson, who led a Protestant church in the Aegean city of Izmir, was placed under house arrest last week after nearly two years in jail.