White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday said that the indictments in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race have "nothing to do" with President Trump's election campaign.
"Today's announcement has nothing to do with the president," she said during a White House press briefing. "It has nothing to do with the campaign."
Sanders also called George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to Trump's campaign, someone with an "extremely limited" role in the election bid.
"He was a volunteer on the campaign," she said. "It was a volunteer position."
"We still expect this to conclude soon," Sanders added of Mueller's probe, which includes potential collusion between Russia and Trump's campaign.
"We're not worrying about it distracting because it has nothing to do with us. This is an action that took place outside the campaign or campaign activity."
Sanders also declined to say why the White House believes Mueller's investigation will end soon and if Trump's administration expects more indictments related to it.
"Those are the indications we have at this time," she said. "I can't go further than that. I don't have anything else to add on a specific timeline."
"That's a question you'd have to ask Robert Mueller," Sanders added of forthcoming indictments.
Sanders additionally reiterated that Trump does not plan on firing Mueller in response to the charges against three of his former campaign aides.
"There is no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the special counsel," she said.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders briefs the press after the indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates and the revelation that former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
President Trump tweeted Monday that there was "NO COLLUSION!" following the indictments against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates.
Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren't Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2017
The FBI has processed Paul Manafort and Rick Gates and they have left for court following their indictments, ABC News reported.
The indictment against President Trump's 2016 election campaign manager was unsealed on Monday and publicly released by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Paul Manafort and Richard Gates, his former business associate, were indicted by a federal grand jury last Friday in Washington, D.C.
The indictment contains 12 counts including conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principle and false and misleading FARA statements.
The case also boasts charges of false statements and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.
The indictment was unsealed on Monday after Manafort and Gates were permitted to surrender themselves into FBI custody in relation to the charges.
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort entered the FBI's Washington Field Office on Monday morning.
CNN on Monday reported that Manafort surrendered to the FBI, walking into the bureau's field office in Washington, D.C.
"We may not have a response at all," a White House official told CNN when asked if they are waiting to learn the charges.
A law enforcement official told CNN that Gates and Manafort are expected to be processed separately once the former turns himself in.
Processing usually takes an hour and includes being photographed and finger printed. The pair will then be taken to federal district court in D.C. later Monday.
CBS News on Monday reported that Manafort was seen leaving his apartment in Alexandria, Virginia, with his lawyer and entering the Washington, D.C. field office of the FBI.
President Trump’s 2016 election campaign chairman was told to surrender to federal authorities early Monday, according to The New York Times.
The Times reported that the charges against Paul Manafort are the first from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s meddling in the presidential race last year.
A person involved in the case also told The Times that Manafort’s former business associate Rick Gates was also told to turn himself in to federal authorities.
The charges against both Gates and Manafort were not immediately clear but represent a steep escalation of Mueller’s probe.
Gates is a longtime protégé and junior partner of Manafort’s, and his name appears on documents tied to companies that the latter’s firm established in Cyprus.
Records reviewed by The Times show that the firm was created to receive payments from businesspeople and politicians in Eastern Europe.
Manafort has been under scrutiny for violations of federal tax law, money laundering and whether he inappropriately disclosed his foreign lobbying.
CNN on Monday reported that Manafort will turn himself into Mueller at the Justice Department, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.
CNN’s source said that Manafort was indicted under seal on Friday and is planning on turning himself in, with the indictment expected to be unsealed later Monday.
Manafort’s past work for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has attracted attention from federal investigators.
The Republican operative has previously denied any financial wrongdoing about his Ukraine-related payments.
Manafort has also insisted that he has committed no wrongs with his bank accounts in offshore tax shelters and his various real-estate transactions over the years.
CNN last month reported that FBI agents raided Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Virginia on July 26 as part of Mueller’s investigation.
Mueller is probing Russia’s interference in last year’s White House race, including potential collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign.
Trump on Sunday tweeted that collusion between his bid and Russia “doesn’t exist,” adding that Mueller’s investigation is a “Witch Hunt for evil politics.”