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Manafort flattered while Hannity raged: Text messages unsealed

Erik Larson
Bloomberg

Paul Manfort’s fawning text messages with Sean Hannity were made public by the federal judge who sentenced President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman to prison, revealing often bitter exchanges about Robert Mueller, Hillary Clinton and the “deep state.”

The messages underscore the close contacts that Hannity, a popular Fox News personality, has had with central players around President Donald Trump. Hannity reportedly has regular conversations with Trump, and was also a client of the president’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

In this May 23, 2018, file photo, Paul Manafort leaves the Federal District Court after a hearing in Washington. Paul Manfort’s fawning text messages with Sean Hannity were made public on Friday, June 21, 2019, by the federal judge who sentenced President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman to prison.

Hannity, it turns out, also corresponded regularly with Manafort as he awaited trial on charges for which he was ultimately sentenced to 7 1 / 2years in federal prison.

“Great show tonight,” Manafort wrote to Hannity in one exchange. “You are so important to saving our country.”

“Hillary belongs in jail,” Hannity replied. “Witch hunt.”

In another exchange, Manafort called Hannity’s show “powerful,” adding that it helps “keep my hope and sanity.”

The text messages – spanning much of 2017 and 2018, while Manafort was under indictment – were part of a sealed government exhibit provided to the court prior to Manafort’s sentencing to prove he’d engaged in witness tampering. The judge ordered the exhibit unsealed Friday.

“Time to say F u and go to war,” Hannity said after an unwelcome development.

“Yes,” Manafort replied.

“That’s what will happen now,” Hannity said. “Then they will get Jared. And try to make Potus explode. Maximum damage to country. Deep state wins”

Manafort also asked Hannity to help promote his GoFundMe for his legal defense, a request that Hannity said could be problematic for Fox.

The men also slammed former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, agreeing he was “worthless.”

Both expressed sympathy for Cohen, who was also investigated and imprisoned after being swept up in Mueller’s probe.

“Michael is a total mess,” Hannity said.

“This is tough stuff they are doing to us,” Manafort replied. “I know exactly what he is going through.”

Fox News didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.