Donald Trump responds to arrest of Paul Manafort: 'Sorry, but this is years ago'

The President was quick to claim the charges were not related to his campaign

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Monday 30 October 2017 15:32 GMT
Trump-Russia investigation: who has been charged in the Mueller probe

Donald Trump has sought to distance himself from the charges filed against his former campaign manager, saying the indictments related to incidents before Paul Manafort joined his insurgent bid to win the White House.

Over the weekend, as reports swirled that one or more of Mr Trump’s team was to be charged, Mr Trump published an series of angry tweets in which he denounced the Russia investigation and again sought to suggest it was his defeated rival, Hillary Clinton, who should be probed.

On Monday, as the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller said it had charged Mr Trump’s former campaign manager, Mr Manfort and business associate Richard Gates, with 12 counts including money laundering and conspiracy against the US, the President sought to put space between himself and the unfolding events.

“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?????,” he wrote on Twitter.

Under the way the special investigation was established, Mr Mueller would have been obliged to inform Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein that he was set to announce charges.

Despite intense speculation over the weekend that Mr Manafort might be one of the people to be charged on Monday - FBI agents had raided his Virginia home in July - no word leaked out ahead of the formal announcement from the Special Prosecutor’s office.

Trump-Russia investigation: who has been charged in the Mueller probe

Mr Manafort joined Mr Trump’s campaign in March 2016 and became the campaign manager in June of that year, his first task to ensure that although Mr Trump had won the Republican primary, senior figures in the party opposed to him did not seek to use the convention in Cleveland as a vehicle to sideline him and vote in another presidential campaign.

He left the campaign in August.

The 31-page indictment that listed 12 charges against the two men, listed alleged offences said to have taken place between 2006 and 2015. As Mr Trump pointed out, this was before Mr Manafort was associated with his presidential run.

Even before the charges were announced, Kellyanne Conway, who with Steve Bannon took charge of Mr Trump’s campaign after Mr Manafort stood down as controversy grew over his dealings with former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, suggested they were not linked to Mr Trump or the 2016 campaign.

“Whatever happens today with the Mueller investigation, we’re not even sure it has anything to do with the campaign,” she told Fox News.

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