WASHINGTON, D.C. — Press Secretary Sean Spicer distanced the 2016 Trump campaign from certain “hangers-on” under questions of connections between those associates and Russia during Monday’s press briefing.
Spicer took several questions on Monday regarding the 2016 election and Russia as hours of a House Intelligence Committee hearing involving FBI Director Jim Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers continued on.
Addressing these questions Spicer said, “There is a discussion — I heard some names thrown around before — that were hangers-on or on the campaign, and I think at some point people that got thrown around at the beginning of this hearing, some of those names, the greatest amount of interaction that they’ve had has had cease-and-desist letters sent to them.”
One reporter responded, “the Roger Stones and the Carter Pages.”
“Exactly,” replied Spicer who repeated Pages’ name. Referring to “those people,” Spicer pronounced, “the greatest amount of interaction that they had with the campaign was the campaign apparently sending them a series of cease-and-desist letters.”
He continued, “there is a fine line between people who want to be part of something that they never had an official role in and people who actually played a role in either the campaign or the transition.”
The secretary stated no issue with looking into questions of ties between the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and Russia but stated firmly that each person that has been briefed on the situation has come to the conclusion that the evidence is not there.
Spicer paused at one point to be clear that the president is now aware of contact between campaign volunteer General Flynn and Russia and went on to mention one-time Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Distancing Manafort’s part in the campaign, Spicer said, “obviously there’s been discussion of Paul Manafort who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.” When one member of the press broke in with the comment that Manafort chaired the campaign, Spicer rebuked that reporter for interrupting the question of another reporter.
“Are you saying then that the President is aware of contacts that Manafort had during the campaign?” came another question for Spicer. The secretary answered, “No, no, nothing that hasn’t been previously discussed. I just don’t want to make it look like we’re not aware of the stuff that’s—”
Spicer told the press that the president is not aware of contact between other campaign associates and Russia. He was also asked whether anyone from the White House, including the president, had been interviewed in regards to the FBI investigation into the 2016 campaign and Russia. His answer was, “Not that I’m aware of.”
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