Trump says Manafort’s alleged crimes are from ‘years ago’ and predate his presidential campaign

Trump says Manafort’s alleged crimes are from ‘years ago’ and predate his presidential campaign
Donald Trump has responded to Paul Manafort's indictment, saying his alleged crimes happened long before his involvement in the presidential election campaign. Trump added that there was no "collusion" with Russia, and questioned why "crooked Hillary" wasn't the focus of an investigation.

READ MORE: Ex-Trump campaign manager Manafort indicted in US on 12 counts over Ukraine lobbying

Earlier on Monday, Manafort - a former campaign manager for Trump - was indicted on several counts in connection with Ukraine lobbying in the US and related crimes between at least 2006 and 2016. Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty to all charges. There are no references to Russia in the indictment, contrary to some media reports.

Shortly after the indictment, Trump wrote on Twitter that the alleged crimes dated from "years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign."

"But why aren't Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????" he continued.

However, if some of Manafort's alleged crimes took place in 2016, as the indictment suggests, it is possible that they occurred during his tenure on Trump’s campaign team. Manafort joined the team in March 2016, and served as campaign manager from June to August of the same year.

Trump also added, once again, that there was "no collusion" between his campaign team and Russia. Both he and Moscow have repeatedly maintained that stance, pointing to a lack of evidence found in the ongoing investigation, which Trump has dubbed a "hoax" and a "witch hunt."

“This does not have anything to do with us,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday, reminding reporters that Manafort and Gates were charged with activities entirely unrelated to the campaign, while the former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos was “part of voluntary advisory council that met once over the entire year.”

“He was not paid by the campaign, he was a volunteer on a council that met once,” Sanders said.

Manafort and his former business associate Richard Gates were indicted on a total of 12 counts. It is alleged that the duo laundered over $18 million through offshore accounts, using the untaxed proceeds to lead a luxurious lifestyle. They are also alleged to have failed to register as agents of a foreign principal and made false and misleading statements to hide payments received from Ukraine.