Trump tweets 'no collusion!' as White House, Democrats react to Russia probe charges

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Oct. 23, 2017. PlayEvan Vucci/AP FILE
WATCH Trump says 'no collusion' as White House, Democrats react to Russia probe charges

In the wake of two indictments and a guilty plea in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, the White House insisted that the criminal charges have nothing to do with President Donald Trump or his campaign.

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White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders also said Trump has no intention of firing Mueller.

"The president said last week, and I said several times before, there is no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the special counsel," Sanders told ABC News' Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl. "Today's announcement has nothing to do with the president and nothing to do with the president's campaign or campaign activity."

PHOTO: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks to the media about the FBIs indictment of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in the Press Briefing Room of the White House, Oct. 30, 2017.
Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks to the media about the FBI's indictment of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in the Press Briefing Room of the White House, Oct. 30, 2017.

Sanders also downplayed the role of former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who has pleaded guilty to making false statements to investigators.

Papadopoulos' role in the campaign "was extremely limited," Sanders said. "It was a volunteer position."

She also sought to downplay the role of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, saying he was hired to handle the Republican delegate process at the convention.

"The president hired Paul Manafort to handle the delegate process, which he did and he was dismissed not too long after that," she said.

Sanders said the White House has received indications that the investigation will be concluded "soon."

'No collusion,' Trump says

Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Manafort’s business associate Rick Gates were indicted Monday morning on 12 charges, including conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, and serving as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal.

George Papadopoulos, who was a foreign policy adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign, pleaded guilty earlier this month to making false statements to FBI agents about his correspondence with Russian nationals and attempts to arrange a meeting between the campaign and Russian officials. The guilty plea was unsealed Monday.

PHOTO: Donald Trump, flanked by campaign manager Paul Manafort and daughter Ivanka, checks the podium in preparation for accepting the GOP nomination to be President at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 20, 2016. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images FILE
Donald Trump, flanked by campaign manager Paul Manafort and daughter Ivanka, checks the podium in preparation for accepting the GOP nomination to be President at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 20, 2016.

Trump meanwhile said on Twitter that "this is years ago," an apparent reference to Manafort's past work on behalf a Ukrainian political party. He also asked why Clinton and Democrats weren't the focus of the probe.

'A dark picture' of Trump campaign: Democrat

Congressional Democrats reacted to news of the charges Monday by demanding Mueller's investigation be allowed to continue without interruption.

"Members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, must also make clear to the President that issuing pardons to any of his associates or to himself would be unacceptable, and result in immediate, bipartisan action by Congress," said Virginia Sen. Mark Warner in a statement.

Others reacted in statements of their own and on Twitter.

"These indictments, combined with the news today that a former Trump advisor pleaded guilty to giving false statements to the FBI about his contacts with foreign officials close to the Russian government, paint a dark picture of the people who ascended to top roles in the Trump campaign," Delaware Sen. Tom Carper said in a statement.

Manafort joined Trump’s presidential campaign in early 2016, serving as campaign manager from June until his resignation in August of that year.

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