WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump on Monday responded to charges against former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a Manafort business associate in special counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia in last year’s election.
In a tweet, Trump sought to distance himself from Manafort and insisted that “the focus” should turn to “Crooked Hillary,” reviving his old campaign moniker for election opponent Hillary Clinton.
Trump also insisted that “there is NO COLLUSION!”
Manafort and former business associate Rick Gates surrendered early Monday, according to multiple news outlets.
Manafort’s name had swirled as a likely suspect since Friday, when reports emerged that a federal grand jury had filed the first charges in the investigation. Manafort’s business has a history of business dealings and lobbying for pro-Russia groups.
In the past, Trump and his administration have sought to distance themselves from Manafort and to minimize his involvement in the campaign. In March, when Manafort emerged as a key figure in Russia investigations, then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed Manafort only played “a limited role” in Trump’s campaign.
Manafort led the campaign from March to August 2016, helping Trump secure the GOP nomination ahead of the Republican National Convention.
Trump on Sunday raged on Twitter as the indictments loomed. He has repeatedly claimed multiple investigations into his campaign’s contacts with Russia are “a witch hunt.” He insisted that collusion “doesn’t exist” and tried to shift focus to Clinton.
“There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!” Trump tweeted.