WASHINGTON—Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on Monday that indictments made by a special counsel have nothing to do with the White House.
The special counsel Robert Mueller announced on Monday that it had made three indictments.
Charges were filed against Paul Manafort and business partner Richard Gates related to their political consulting and lobbying work for Ukraine between 2006 and 2015.
According to the indictment, the two did not register as foreign agents for their work and tried to hide tens of millions of dollars in payments from the U.S. government.
However, the charges against the two date back to before they joined the Trump campaign.
“Today’s announcement has nothing to do with the president, has nothing to do with the president’s campaign,” Sander said.
Manafort had been hired by the Trump campaign as the event manager for the RNC national convention in March 2016. Manafort had been chosen in part for his experience in successfully managing the convention floor for Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush.
He was later promoted to campaign chairman, but was forced to resign only months later after it was reported he had received $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments from Ukraine between 2007 and 2012.
“These were seasoned operatives that worked on a number of campaigns. Paul Manafort was brought in to lead the delegate process, which he did. And he was dismissed not long after that,” Sanders said.
A third person who has been indicted is George Papadopoulos, who had worked for the campaign in a volunteer capacity.
Papadopoulos was indicted for lying to the FBI about his contact with a Russian professor, a female Russian national, and someone described as an official in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The indictment said that Papadopoulos was in contact with these Russians. It also said that he had boasted during a foreign policy meeting that Trump attended that he had contacts that could help set up a meeting with Vladimir Putin.
However, Papadopoulos was not taken up on his offer, and no meeting between Trump and Putin occurred during the campaign.
“He [Papadopoulos] reached out and nothing happened beyond that, which I think shows, one, his level of importance in the campaign, and two, shows what little role he had in coordinating anything officially for the campaign,” Sanders said.
Sanders said that Papadopoulos was not paid by the campaign and that his involvement was “extremely limited.”
“This individual was a volunteer on an advisory council that met one time over the course of a year,” Sanders said.
The advisory council met only once on March 31, 2016.
The indictment also said that Papadopoulos was told by the Russian professor in London that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails. However, the indictment contains no evidence that he had communicated this information to the Trump campaign.
Sanders said that the real Russia collusion scandal is that of the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee paying for Russian intelligence against their opponent Donald Trump.
The Washington Post reported on Oct. 24 that the Clinton campaign and the DNC had hired FusionGPS to produce a dossier on Trump. The dossier relied on a Russian government official and a Russian spy for information. A former British spy who had worked in Russia was hired by FusionGPS for his contacts within the Kremlin.
The payments to FusionGPS by the Clinton campaign were hidden from the FEC as they were routed through a law firm and declared as “legal expenses.”
“There’s clear evidence of the Clinton campaign colluding with Russian intelligence to spread disinformation and smear the president to influence the election,” Sanders said.
The dossier, which contains many sensational claims, many of which have been debunked, were spread to major media organizations and politicians in an effort to influence them.
Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report.