WASHINGTON – The White House worked Friday to distance itself from Friday’s indictment of President Donald Trump’s former political consultant, Roger Stone – while Trump himself reacted with tweeted anger.
“Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country! NO COLLUSION!” Trump tweeted in the late morning, adding a complaint about how CNN filmed Stone’s arrest earlier in the day.
“Border Coyotes, Drug Dealers and Human Traffickers are treated better. Who alerted CNN to be there?” he said.
Trump tweeted as aides argued the Stone indictment does not affect him.
“This this has nothing to do with the president, nothing to do with the White House,” Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said the case against Stone, as developed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, involves mostly false statements, not a conspiracy with Russia that implicates the president.
“The indictment today does not allege Russian collusion by Roger Stone or anyone else,” Sekulow said. “Rather, the indictment focuses on alleged false statements made to Congress.”
Lawmakers, meanwhile, pointed out that Stone is accused of making contacts with unnamed officials in the Trump’s presidential campaign regarding WikiLeaks disclosures designed to damage Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
They also noted that Stone is only the latest Trump associate to be charged in the Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.
“Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn … What did the President know and when did he know it?” tweeted Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
The special counsel’s office has obtained indictments or convictions of at least 32 people, including four connected to Trump’s campaign: Manafort, the former campaign chairman; Gates, Manafort’s deputy; Flynn, a campaign aide as well as, briefly, the White House national security adviser; and George Papadopoulos, a campaign foreign policy adviser.
In addition, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty in a New York federal court to tax evasion, lying to a bank and campaign finance violations that he said Trump was involved in. Cohen has been cooperating extensively with Mueller’s team, according to special counsel prosecutors.
Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia and described Mueller’s probe as a “witch hunt.”
Stone, speaking this week to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, said he would never testify against Trump.
“No matter how much pressure they put on me, no matter what they say, I will not bear false witness against Donald Trump,” Stone said. “I will not do what Michael Cohen has done and make up lies to ease the pressure on myself.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, noted that “the phrase ‘Trump campaign’ appears in the indictment 24 times,” with specific details in particular about one unnamed senior official.
“It’s time for President Trump and his top aides to be truthful with the American people,” Feinstein said.