Special counsel Robert Mueller is treating former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort "like he's a terrorist," the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told NBC News on Wednesday.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that one of Manafort's attorneys briefed President Donald Trump's lawyers on his client’s conversations and details of his cooperation with the special counsel. Responding to that story by text message, Giuliani accused the special counsel's office of treating "Manafort like he's a terrorist, incarcerating him before trial, solitary incarceration and repeated questioning."
Manafort's treatment amid prosecution was hardly draconian: In his first Virginia jail, he had his own bathroom in his private jail cell thanks to his high-profile status and was reportedly allowed to have a laptop to review evidence. An alleged terrorist would have far fewer privileges and even limited attorney visits. What's more, Manafort was initially released on bail but was returned to jail to await trial after violating his bail agreement for witness tampering.
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Giuliani claimed that Mueller's conduct "shows they are willing to exert unusual pressure that could tempt someone to lie and get out of jail," echoing Trump's repeated claim that the Mueller team is trying to get his allies to lie.
Mueller previously served as FBI director for 12 years.
On Tuesday, Giuliani took aim at Andrew Weissmann, Mueller's deputy, accusing him of a "history of prosecutorial misconduct" in a statement to NBC News. On Wednesday, he went further, seemingly calling out Weissmann again.
"One of these committed Democrats has done something very similar in other cases and has a disturbing history of ethical misconduct," he said.
Giuliani did not say who he was referring to, though Trump suggested something similar on Tuesday when he tweeted about the investigation.
"Heroes will come of this, and it won’t be Mueller and his ... terrible Gang of Angry Democrats. Look at their past, and look where they come from," Trump wrote in a pair of tweets.
Manafort, 69, was convicted of tax evasion and bank fraud in August and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel's investigation in September, pleading guilty to various charges.
On Tuesday, Mueller's team said that Manafort had lied repeatedly and violated the terms of the plea deal and said he should be sentenced immediately.
Attorneys for Manafort disputed the special counsel's assertion, and said Manafort "believes he has provided truthful information and does not agree with the government’s characterization or that he has breached the agreement."