Trump distances himself from indicted former aides

White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during the press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., on October 30, 2017. (AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM)
Updated 31 October 2017

Trump distances himself from indicted former aides

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump moved quickly Monday to distance himself and the White House from the indictment of his former campaign chairman and another aide, saying Paul Manafort’s alleged misdeeds occurred “years ago” and insisting there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Responding to news that two former senior campaign aides were charged by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating interactions between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia, the president tried to shift the focus elsewhere, asking on Twitter why Hillary Clinton and the Democrats aren’t the focus of the probe.
Trump’s tweet: “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????“
He tacked on this addendum: .”...Also, there is NO COLLUSION!“
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the indictments have “nothing to do with the president,” because “most” of the alleged crimes occurred before they worked Trump.
Sanders also dismissed former foreign policy adviser George Papadopolous — who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI — as a “volunteer” on the Trump campaign and said he served on a committee that only met once. Mueller’s office announced Monday that Papadopolous pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to FBI agents about the timing and detail of his attempts to line up meetings between Russian government officials and the Trump campaign.
Sanders said Papadopolous’ actions were not sanctioned by the campaign.
The three men were the first to be charged by Mueller.
Manafort and Rick Gates surrendered to federal authorities Monday to face felony charges of conspiracy against the United States, acting as an unregistered foreign agent, and several other financial counts involving tens of millions of dollars routed through offshore accounts. They pleaded not guilty in federal court Monday afternoon.
The indictment against Manafort and Gates alleges criminal activity through “at least 2016,” when the presidential campaign was in full swing.
White House allies privately expressed relief that the charges against Manafort and Gates did not specifically pertain to Russia or the Trump administration.
Over the weekend, Trump had taken to Twitter to allege that the “facts are pouring out” about links to Russia by Clinton, his former presidential opponent.
“DO SOMETHING!” Trump urged in one of five tweets on Saturday.
Trump and the White House insist there was no collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia. Both have pointed a finger at Clinton and have suggested that the real story of collusion with Russia is the sale of uranium to Moscow when Clinton was secretary of state.
US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered with the election to benefit Trump, a finding that Trump has not fully accepted. Mueller and Congress are looking into allegations of ties between Trump associates and Russia.
In his weekend tweets, Trump referenced the fact that Clinton’s presidential campaign helped fund political research into Trump that ultimately produced a dossier of allegations about his ties to Russia. He also pointed to the uranium sale, the tens of thousands of emails from Clinton’s time at the State Department that she later deleted from a private email server, and the decision by then-FBI Director Jim Comey to not bring criminal charges against Clinton for possible mishandling of classified information.
“Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia ‘collusion,’ which doesn’t exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R’s are now fighting back like never before,” Trump says across several tweets. “There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!“
Trump also suggested that Russia’s re-emergence into the conversation is no accident, tweeting that “All of this ‘Russia’ talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!“
On Wednesday, Republican lawmakers are scheduled to release a tax cut bill that is being pushed by the GOP lawmakers and Trump.


Elizabeth Warren decries Trump as ‘corruption in the flesh’

Updated 20 min 33 sec ago

Elizabeth Warren decries Trump as ‘corruption in the flesh’

  • Warren, a Massachusetts senator, has emerged as a leading Democratic presidential contender
NEW YORK: Facing thousands of cheering supporters in the nation’s largest city, Democratic presidential contender Elizabeth Warren on Monday decried President Donald Trump as “corruption in the flesh” and outlined her plans to root out corruption in the White House, Congress and courts.
“Corruption has put our planet at risk. Corruption has broken our economy. And corruption is breaking our democracy,” said Warren, a Massachusetts senator who has emerged as a leading presidential contender.
While aggressive, the message was a familiar one. Warren has embraced corruption as a central campaign theme from the beginning of her 2020 presidential bid. But rarely has Warren addressed such a crowd with such a symbolic backdrop.
The crowd — which exceeded 20,000 people, according to the Warren campaign — filled almost the entirety of the 10-acre (4-hectare) Washington Square Park, wrapping around a massive fountain and clogging the pathways that connect the street chess games to the classrooms of New York University to the giant marble arch the downtown park is best known for.
It was a younger audience, racially diverse and packed with women. One of the biggest applause lines of the night: “We’re not here tonight because of famous arches or famous men. In fact, we’re not here because of men at all.”
The event was set close to the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. fire, which killed more than 140 workers in 1911.
She framed those deaths as the direct result of corruption. Many women died because factory owners neglected safety features to save money, with the implicit support of local elected officials who declined to intervene.
Warren charged that the same thing is happening today.
“Giant corporations have bought off our government,” she said.
Specifically, her anti-corruption plan would “end lobbying as we know it” by instituting a lifetime ban on members of Congress and White House Cabinet secretaries from ever becoming lobbyists. At the same time, corporate lobbyists would be blocked from working for the federal government.
Both practices are common today.
She also would prohibit federal judges from avoiding misconduct investigations by leaving their posts, prevent courts from sealing settlements in public health and safety cases and ban class-action waivers for all cases involving employment, consumer protection, antitrust and civil rights.
And taking direct aim at issues involving the Trump administration, Warren would require candidates for public office to post their tax returns online. Presidents, Cabinet secretaries and members of Congress would also be prohibited from owning businesses on the side.
Trump, of course, has refused to release his tax returns years after promising to do so, and the Trump organization continues to do business around the world.
“Donald Trump is corruption in the flesh,” Warren said. “He is sworn to serve the people of the United States, but he serves only himself and his partners in corruption.” Warren noted, however, that Trump is only a symptom of the corruption that has infected the US political and economic systems.
Warren has long argued that the nation’s modern government only works for “the wealthy and the well-connected” like big energy, health care and insurance companies that employ lobbyists to advance their priorities over the best interests of ordinary citizens.
She wrote that popular policies championed by the Democratic Party’s progressive wing — and many in its crowded field of presidential hopefuls — like universal child care, an overhaul of the federal criminal justice system, gun reform and plans to promote affordable housing have been “stymied because giant corporations and billionaires who don’t want to pay taxes or follow any rules use their money and influence to stand in the way.”
Warren’s campaign noted that she already proposed a series of anti-corruption measures in Congress last year, but it says the proposal released Monday goes farther.
Warren has emerged as a central player in the broader fight for the direction of the Democratic Party in the age of Trump.
Like her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders, Warren is demanding transformational change that Trump and his allies deride as socialism. Warren and Sanders are up against Democratic front-runner Joe Biden, a favorite of the party’s establishment wing.
Warren didn’t identify any of her Democratic opponents by name.
She noted, however, that “too many politicians in both parties have convinced themselves that playing the money-for-influence game is the only way to get things done.”
Warren doesn’t participate in high-dollar fundraising events as a 2020 candidate, though she did before launching her presidential campaign.
On Monday, looking out at the swelling crowd, Warren noted that she typically takes selfies with everyone who wants one at her events.
“Tonight is a little something different,” Warren said.