August 22, 2018 10:33 am
Updated: August 22, 2018 12:17 pm

Manafort and Cohen’s guilty verdicts could actually help Trump — here’s why

ABOVE: President Donald Trump slammed the Russia investigation once more on Tuesday, asking "where is the collusion, find some collusion" during a rally in West Virginia.

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As one of U.S. President Donald Trump’s former advisers was handed a guilty verdict and a second pleaded guilty to financial crimes, the president delighted a cheering fan base at a West Virginia rally on Tuesday night.

Supporters of Trump attending the rally chanted “lock her up” at the first mention of Hillary Clinton.

READ MORE: Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman, found guilty on 8 counts in fraud trial

But three hours earlier, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felony counts. Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort was found guilty of eight financial crimes, including tax fraud, bank fraud, and hiding a foreign bank account.

Manafort could get up to 80 years in prison and Cohen could get locked up for nearly six years.

But Trump’s supporters in West Virginia didn’t seem to care about the felony charges.

During the rally, Trump did not mention either the Cohen or Manafort cases — instead, he focused on collusion and Clinton.

“Where is the collusion?” he asked, underscoring that Manafort’s crimes had occurred before he became involved with the Trump campaign. “You know they’re still looking for collusion.”

Republican Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey spoke on stage about Clinton and how she once said she would put coal miners out of business.

WATCH: Trump feels ‘badly’ about Manafort guilty verdict, but says ‘doesn’t involve me’

The crowd then chanted “lock her up,” and “drain the swamp.”

On Wednesday, Trump called the charges against Manafort a “witch hunt.”  “A large number of counts, ten, could not even be decided in the Paul Manafort case. Witch Hunt!”

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A jury found Manafort guilty on eight counts of bank and tax fraud out of a total of 18 charges., A mistrial was declared on the remaining count. The prosecution could retry Manafort on those charges.

The Trump base…could care less

While Trump undoubtedly had a bad day on Tuesday, some analysts say the guilty verdicts could work to his advantage by reinforcing core supporters.

Andy Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center told Reuters that supporters may believe Trump is under siege.

READ MORE: Donald Trump faces election, legal risks in wake of his 2 ex-advisers’ guilty verdict

“In midterm elections, the president’s party tends to be less interested and less motivated to vote. But one thing that will motivate people to get out and vote is if they believe the party is being attacked unfairly,” he said.

Larry Sabato, a political analyst and director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics also said the Cohen and Manafort cases were unlikely to erode Trump’s support from his political base or the Republican Party establishment.

WATCH: Senators issue warnings to Trump on pardons for Paul Manafort

“I don’t think there is any change at all,” said Sabato. “That’s the amazing part of it. The Trump base and virtually the entire Republican Party could care less. The polls will bear me out.”

However, at least one Republican said legal fallout does create a vulnerability for Trump. Jennifer Horn, the former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party and a frequent Trump critic, predicted Tuesday’s developments would prompt a primary challenge to the president in the 2020 campaign.

“You can count on it now,” she told the Associated Press.

— With files from the Associated Press and Reuters

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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