Donald Trump has apparently decided to distance himself from charges against his former aides filed under the so-called Russia probe described as a “witch hunt” by the US president. He has also commented on the scandal surrounding the brother of Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chair.

President Donald Trump has addressed Monday’s indictments against his former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his business partner, as well as former policy advisor George Papadopoulos whom he refers to as a “liar,” saying that the “Fake News” — a term he uses to describe the US mainstream media — was working overtime on these stories, while it should instead be investigating the dealings of the Democrats.

While pleading not guilty to all 12 charges, Manafort has been placed under house arrest. Manafort’s lawyer Kevin Downing called Mueller’s allegations “ridiculous” and relied on a “very novel theory.”

Shortly before commenting on the issue on Twitter, Trump declined to answer a journalist’s qiestopm whether he may grant a pardon Manafort.

The charges were filed by special Counsel Robert Mueller under the investigation into the alleged “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia, a claim strongly refuted by the Kremlin as “absurd.” Trump has repeatedly denied all these allegations, calling the investigation a “witch hunt.”

Trump has also commented on media reports on Democratic party lobbyist Tony Podesta, the brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, “running from his firm.”

Podesta’s move comes a week after US media reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had shifted the focus of the ongoing investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election to Tony Podesta and his Democratic-leaning lobbying firm. According to NBC sources, the inquiry grew out of Mueller’s examination of the finances of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to the sources.

First Charges in Mueller Probe

On Monday, Paul Manafort and Richard Gates were indicted on 12 counts, including “conspiracy against the United States” and conspiracy to launder money, misleading and false Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) statements, and failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. In particular, Manafort, who worked as an advisor to former Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, has been charged over being engaged in a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign in the US on behalf of Kiev.

The same day, the Department of Justice revealed that George Papadopoulos, who, according to the White House had a “limited” role in the campaign, had pleaded guilty on October 5 to making false statements to FBI agents pertaining to alleged Russia-linked actors he had contacted or attempted to contact while acting as Trump’s presidential campaign adviser.

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