WASHINGTON – The White House attempted to dismiss a barrage of new developments in the Russia investigation Friday, saying the updates were not “of value” and not related to the president.
President Donald Trump also posted on Twitter, appearing to feel vindicated after special counsel Robert Mueller released new details in the criminal cases against Paul Manafort, the president’s former campaign chairman, and Michael Cohen, his former attorney and fixer.
“Totally clears the President. Thank you!” Trump said in a short post on Twitter. He didn’t elaborate as to what he was referring to, though the timing of the tweet suggested he was reacting to the new information released in the investigation, which he’s dubbed a “witch hunt.”
The new information released by the New York prosecutors and Mueller’s team, some of which was redacted and blacked out, did not accuse the president of colluding with Russia and did not reveal any new information as to whether the president was informed or played any role in the Russian effort to sow discord during the election.
But, the documents do show Trump’s connection in some of the crimes, specifically alleging that the president directed Cohen to commit two felonies when he violated campaign finance laws. They also offer new insights as to the direction in which the probe is heading, something that could pose issues for the president and his family.
Trump Organization, the president’s company, is mentioned several times, along with a possible deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Mueller’s office seems to draw a connection to the deal, which continued during the 2016 election, and the Russian government’s efforts to interrupt the election in favor of him. Both, the special counsel notes, were happening simultaneously.
The filings also include that Cohen was contacted by a Russian national as far back as 2015 in hopes of setting up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, something that prosecutors note could have helped Trump’s aspirations of building a Trump Tower in Moscow. The meeting never happened.
Mueller is still investigating Russian interference and large portions of his office’s filings in recent days have been blacked out, a telling sign that there’s more to come and details that have not been revealed to the public.
But the lack of a smoking gun being revealed or any substantial links between Russian collusion and the president were not lost with the White House.
“The government’s filing in Mr. Manafort’s case says absolutely nothing about the President,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. “It says even less about collusion and is devoted almost entirely to lobbying-related issues. Once again the media is trying to create a story where there isn’t one.”
Sanders claimed that there was nothing of value released in the 47 pages of documents released by both New York prosecutors and those working with Mueller’s office.
“The government’s filings in Mr. Cohen’s case tell us nothing of value that wasn’t already known,” she said. “Mr. Cohen has repeatedly lied and as the prosecution has pointed out to the court, Mr. Cohen is no hero.”
Sanders didn’t address the new revelations in the filings, specifically when it came to Cohen and the connections between Russia and the Trump Organization.
Author: Louie Villalobos and Christal Hayes
Contributing: Bart Jansen, David Jackson
Publication: USA Today | ‘Thank you’: Donald Trump claims vindication after Mueller investigation updates