It’s strange how the Muller probe of “Russian collusion” mutated: half a year into the special prosecutor’s investigation whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin to defeat Hillary Clinton (who may have colluded with Moscow herself over the infamous Uranium One deal, a prove is pending), there was not a single mention of Russia or Putin, and instead two former Trump aides were busted for money laundering and tax evasion, as well as receiving funds from Russia’s arch nemesis, Ukraine, also known for being the biggest foreign donor to the Clinton foundation.
This irony wasn’t lost on Russia, and on Tuesday the Kremlin commented on Monday’s news, stressing that the indictment handed down in the special counsel’s investigation did not include accusations against Russia for meddling in the U.S. presidential election. Quoted by Reuters, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a call with reporters that Russia has always said that it did not interfere in the election.
“Russia does not feature in the charges that were leveled in any way. Other countries and other people feature (in the charges),” Peskov said, according to the news service adding that “Moscow never felt itself guilty so as to feel exonerated now,” when asked whether the Kremlin interpreted the indictment as proof that its denials about meddling in the U.S. presidential election had been confirmed.
Peskov said the investigation was an internal matter for the United States which Russia was not involved in, but was following with interest from afar.
Peskov also commented on details of a case against George Papadopoulos who pleaded guilty in early October to lying to the FBI. Papadopoulos told investigators about his efforts to set up a meeting between the Trump campaign and the Russian leadership during which he said he met a London-based professor boasting of contacts with Russian officials and a Russian woman whom he described as a relative of President Vladimir Putin. The case against Papadopoulos also mentions his contacts with someone with links to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
When asked what the Kremlin made of the details about someone linked to the Russian Foreign Ministry being cited in the Papadopoulos case, Peskov said the accusation was totally unsubstantiated.
“It’s an absolutely laughable allegation,” Peskov told reporters.
The indictments against Manafort and Gates come amid a months-long ongoing investigation by Robert Mueller into Russia’s attempts to interfere in the presidential election and any potential ties between Trump campaign staff members and the Kremlin.
On Tuesday morning, Donald Trump once again slammed the “witch hunt” and the “fake news”, tweeting that “The Fake News is working overtime. As Paul Manaforts lawyer said, there was “no collusion” and events mentioned took place long before he came to the campaign. Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS!“