In this Aug. 21, 2018 photo, President Donald Trump pauses while speaking during a in Charleston, W.Va. Trump assailed longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen for making a plea deal in an interview that aired Thursday, accusing his former fixer of “flipping” and arguing “it almost ought to be illegal.” (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The Latest: Trump avoids associates' legal troubles at rally

August 21, 2018 - 7:46 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

7:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump has avoided mentioning the legal troubles of two former close associates during the opening of a campaign rally in West Virginia.

Trump spent the first 20 minutes of his rally Tuesday at the Charleston Civic Center talking about ESPN and the NFL, introducing members of Congress in the audience and boosting the candidacy of Republican Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey. Morrisey is challenging Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.

Trump also discussed the November midterm elections and promised to visit West Virginia again before then.

Hours earlier, Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted of eight financial crimes. The convictions were the first stemming from the special counsel investigation into the president's associates and their ties to Russia.

Also Tuesday, Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felony counts.

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7:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump says ESPN's decision to not show the national anthem before its broadcasts of "Monday Night Football" games this season is "terrible."

Trump told hundreds of supporters packed into the Charleston Civic Center in West Virginia for a campaign rally Tuesday night that "while the players are kneeling ... you're all proudly standing for our national anthem."

Trump says: "The ESPN thing was terrible."

ESPN says its decision is consistent with how it has handled similar situations in previous years.

Trump has been in a long-running dispute with the NFL over players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice. He has called players who kneel during the anthem names and says they should be punished.

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7:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump is opening a West Virginia campaign rally hours after his former campaign chairman was convicted of financial crimes and his former personal attorney pleaded guilty to felonies.

Trump was greeted with a thunderous standing ovation Tuesday after taking the stage at the Charleston Civic Center.

Hours earlier, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted of eight financial crimes in the first court victory stemming from the special counsel investigation into the president's associates and their ties to Russia.

At around the same time, Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felony counts.

The charges include arranging the payment of hush money to influence the election after two women alleged sexual relationships with Trump. Cohen says he acted at Trump's direction, which Trump denies.

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6 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the conviction of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on financial crimes is "a disgrace."

But he is largely ignoring his former personal attorney Michael Cohen's guilty pleas to felonies, including campaign finance violations he stated he carried out in coordination with Trump, other than to say he felt "badly for both" men.

Manafort was convicted Tuesday in Virginia on charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential obstruction of justice. Cohen pleaded guilty in New York, saying he and Trump arranged the payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model to influence the election.

Trump told reporters in West Virginia that Manafort's conviction "has nothing to do with Russian collusion." Of Manafort's crimes, he says, "It doesn't involve me."

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