President Donald Trump moved quickly to distance himself and the White House from the indictment of his former campaign chairman and another aide, saying Paul Manafort’s alleged misdeeds occurred “years ago” and insisting there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to the Associated Press
Responding to news that two former senior campaign aides were charged by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating interactions between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia, the president tried to shift the focus elsewhere, asking on Twitter why Hillary Clinton and the Democrats aren’t the focus of the probe.
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
Paul Manafort and Rick Gates surrendered to federal authorities Monday to face felony charges of conspiracy against the United States, acting as an unregistered foreign agent, and several other financial counts involving tens of millions of dollars routed through offshore accounts. They pleaded not guilty in federal court Monday afternoon.
Manafort, and Rick Gates face decades in federal prison and millions of dollars in potential fines if convicted on all counts in a sprawling federal indictment unsealed Monday.
Manafort potentially faces up to 80 years in prison, according to a review of the federal charges and the relevant statutes by The Associated Press. Gates, who also worked for the Trump campaign, faces up to 70 years.
Prosecutors allege that Manafort and Gates worked as unregistered agents of the government of Ukraine and the Party of Regions, a pro-Russian political party led by Victor Yanukovych. While serving as president of the former Soviet republic from 2010 to 2014, Yanukovych was closely aligned with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The indictment says that up to $75 million flowed through overseas accounts controlled by the two Americans. Manafort is alleged to have laundered more than $18 million he used to buy property and goods in the United States. Gates is alleged to have transferred more than $3 million to accounts he controlled.
The indictment against Manafort and Gates alleges criminal activity through “at least 2016,” when the presidential campaign was in full swing.
White House allies privately expressed relief that the charges against Manafort and Gates did not specifically pertain to Russia or the Trump administration.
Over the weekend, Trump had taken to Twitter to allege that the “facts are pouring out” about links to Russia by Clinton, his former presidential opponent.
Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?),....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 29, 2017
...the Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more. Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia,....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 29, 2017
..."collusion," which doesn't exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R's...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 29, 2017
...are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 29, 2017
Trump and the White House insist there was no collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia. Both have pointed a finger at Clinton and have suggested that the real story of collusion with Russia is the sale of uranium to Moscow when Clinton was secretary of state.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered with the election to benefit Trump, a finding that Trump has not fully accepted. Mueller and Congress are looking into allegations of ties between Trump associates and Russia.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.