The White House responded to the news that three former officials for President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign were charged with crimes, distancing their activities from the president.
“Today’s announcement has nothing to do with the president, has nothing to do with the president’s campaign or campaign activity,” Sanders said during the White House press briefing on Monday in response to the news that his former campaign manager Paul Manafort and associate Rick Gates were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
Sanders repeated the White House assertion that there was still no evidence that Trump had colluded with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton, even though campaign national security adviser George Papadopoulos contacted the campaign about Russians having “dirt” on the Democratic candidate.
“We have been saying from day one there has been no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, and nothing today changes that at all,” she said.
She stressed that most of the alleged criminal activity between Manafort, Gates, and foreign governments cited by Mueller in the indictment took place before they took roles in the campaign.
Sanders also stated that Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to giving false statements about his communications with Russian-connected officials, was not paid by the campaign and had an “extremely limited” role in the campaign, as he was a “volunteer.”
Sanders said she was not aware that an unnamed campaign supervisor cited in the document encouraged Papadopoulos to pursue conversations with the Russians.
“No activity was ever done in an official capacity on behalf of the campaign in that regard,” she said.
Papadopoulos was arrested at Dulles Airport in July 2017 and is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s communications with Russia.