In a series of Twitter statements, President Donald Trump forcefully insisted that his associates did not collude with Russian interests. The tweets came just two hours after former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort surrendered to the FBI in Washington to face an indictment on a range of charges include “conspiracy against the United States.” In the tweets, Trump said that charges against Manafort deal with his activities from before “was part of the Trump campaign.” The president asked “why aren't Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????"
"Also, there is NO COLLUSION!" Trump tweeted.
These were the first responses Trump has made to charges filed by special counsel Robert Mueller. Over the weekend, in advance of the indictment, he also tweeted his doubts about the investigation.
Manafort faces 12 counts, including conspiracy against the United States and money laundering related to his work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. His associate, Rick Gates, was also charged. The indictments, however, did not include any references to the Trump himself, collusion, or the Trump campaign. Mueller accused Manafort of hiding payments for his work involving Ukraine from around 2006 to 2016. According to some reports, Manafort also consulted by the Podesta Group at that time in an effort to influence decision-makers in Washington. The Podesta Group is owned by brothers Tony and John Podesta; the latter was Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman in 2016.
Trump’s attorneys have expressed the belief that Manafort does not have damaging information about the president or associates.
In a separate but related case, former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos (30) has pleaded guilty, according to a plea that was unsealed on Monday. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his dealings with Russians.
Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.