Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman and Russia’s foreign minister on Tuesday dismissed news of the indictment of two former Trump campaign officials, and the guilty plea of a third.
Dmitry Peskov, press secretary for Putin, told CNN Tuesday that the 12-count indictment against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, “contribute to already over-the-top Russophobic hysteria.” Gates and Manafort pleaded not guilty to the charges against them Monday, shortly after the indictments were unsealed.
Peskov, per CNN, said that “so far Russia is not featured in any way in these indictments — other countries and other people are mentioned there.”
That ignored the guilty plea of former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadapolous, whose admission that he lied to the FBI about his contacts with Russians, and about his multiple attempts to set up meetings between Russian interests and the Trump campaign, was unsealed Monday.
When CNN asked about Papadopoulos, the network reported Peskov said “this is like a meeting with the children of Lieutenant Schmidt,” and that “[t]his is a completely laughable accusation, a laughable statement, unqualified (statement), again, unfounded, unsubstantiated, and this is how we treat it.”
Peskov added: “Any accusation that has been put forward in some internal U.S. investigation against U.S. citizens has nothing to do with us. This is an internal affair of the United States.”
CNN reported that Peskov’s mention of the “children of Lieutenant Schmidt” was a reference to the a group of swindlers who appear in the novel “The Little Golden Calf.” In the novel, con men claiming to be descendants of the Russian Revolutionary hero “diligently harvest the land’s natural resources: kindheartedness, stupidity, servility and toadyism,” according to a recent translation.
Separately, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election were a “fantasy,” according to Reuters, which quoted the Russian news agency Interfax.
“Without a single piece of proof, we are as you know being accused of meddling not only in the U.S. election, but also in those in European states,” Lavrov said, per Reuters. Lavrov then referenced an “allegation” of Russian meddling in the recent reshuffling of the South African Cabinet.
“In general, there is no limit to fantasy,” he said, according to Reuters.