Washington: President Donald Trump today lashed out at the US media, saying “fake news” was working “overtime” to link him with the indictment of his former campaign manager who has been accused of concealing millions of dollars in payments from Russia-backed political parties.
Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort was yesterday charged with conspiracy against the US and money laundering, triggering a political storm and marking the first indictment in the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.
Manafort, 68, and his business associate Rick Gates, 45, have been charged on 12 counts, including conspiracy against the US, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) statements, and false statements.
The indictment is part of the investigations being done by former FBI chief Robert Mueller, who has been appointed by the Department of Justice as a special counsel to probe into the allegations of Russian interference into the presidential elections and the connection with the Trump Campaign if any. The indictment has come as a major challenge to Trump in his short political carries, which is less than a few years ago, during which he reached the White House.
According to The Wall Street Journal, with the unsealing of a 12-count indictment and a guilty plea, Mueller has signaled that his probe has taken him far beyond the campaign.
The guilty plea by George Papadopoulos, who served as a foreign-policy adviser to Trump during the campaign, may prove to be more significant than the indictment against Manafort and Gates, the daily said.
Trump has lashed out at media for linking him to Manafort.
“The Fake News is working overtime. As Paul Manafort’s lawyer said, there was ‘no collusion’ and events mentioned took place long before he… came to the campaign,” Trump said in a tweet. “Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named
George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS (Democrats)!” he said.
In another tweet, Trump urged his supporters and countrymen to focus on bigger issues of massive tax cuts that he is proposing.
“I hope people will start to focus on our Massive Tax Cuts for Business (jobs) and the Middle Class (in addition to Democrat corruption)!” Trump said.
One of Trump’s lawyers Jay Sekulow said that there is no intention of the president to fire Mueller.
“Let me say this and I have said this, there is no conversation regarding firing Robert Mueller. And there’s no basis to fire Robert Mueller,” he was quoted as saying by ABC News.
Meanwhile, White House Chief of Staff Gen (rtd) John Kelly called for appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate an Obama-era uranium sale and Democrats’ roles in funding a controversial opposition research dossier.