Stone arrest: Trump ‘did nothing wrong,’ says White House press secretary Sanders
Stone’s arrest prompted speculation that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is closing in on President Trump himself. Former CIA Director John Brennan said on MSNBC that collusion with Russia went “to the very top of the Trump campaign,” and that Stone’s indictment is just the beginning of a move by Mueller against Trump.
“This is the sixth individual connected to the president either through the Trump Organization or… campaign that’s now been charged in the Mueller investigation,” CNN’s John Berman said to Sanders on Friday. “That's a lot of people, Sarah."
“Yeah, and all on things that had nothing to do with the president,” Sanders replied. “Just because they had some association with the president at some point, doesn’t mean things they did in their private lives...had anything to do with the president.”
“The charges brought against Mr. Stone have nothing to do with the president, nothing to do with the White House,” she continued.
“The president did nothing wrong. There was no collusion on his part.”
Stone, an adviser to the 2016 Trump campaign and veteran political consultant, was arrested by FBI agents in a pre-dawn raid at his Florida home on Friday. The self-described political “dirty trickster” has been charged by Mueller with one count of obstruction, one count of witness tampering, and five counts of giving false statements.
Despite the charges stemming from Mueller’s ongoing ‘Russiagate’ investigation, Stone’s alleged crimes do not involve collusion with Russia. Rather, they are process crimes related to his alleged attempts to cover up having prior knowledge about a trove of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails released by WikiLeaks in the runup to the election.
Six Trump campaign officials have been charged by Mueller: former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, former campaign chair Paul Manafort, former aide Rick Gates, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, and now Stone. None of the charges against any of these officials related to collusion with Russia, which was the original purview of the Mueller investigation.
With every high-profile ‘Russiagate’ arrest or indictment igniting a media frenzy, Sanders has repeated the same defense of Trump multiple times in recent months. Speaking after Cohen reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors in August, she used familiar words to downplay his admission to tax fraud, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations.
“As the President has said and we’ve stated many times, he did nothing wrong. There are no charges against him and we’ve commented on it extensively,” Sanders said at the time. “Just because Michael Cohen made a plea deal, doesn’t implicate the president on anything.”
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