At least one source close to the White House had a straightforward reaction to the unsealed indictment of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates Monday morning: “Today has zero to do with the White House.”
That’s what the unnamed source told CNN, in what the network called “a preview of some of the talking points we will hear from the White House and its surrogates.”
Manafort and Gates surrendered to the FBI’s custody Monday, each charged with multiple counts related to money laundering and violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Manafort and Gates were deeply tied to Trump’s campaign: the former was its campaign chairman at one point and oversaw the Republican National Convention for Trump’s campaign. And Gates, Manafort’s longtime business partner, also worked for the campaign and, later, on Trump’s inaugural committee.
CNN’s John Berman later read another reaction on air, from an unnamed “source close to the White House”: “The bad behavior of Manafort/Gates has little to do with the Trump campaign or Russia investigation,” the source said.
The statement continued: “These guys were bad guys when they started. They were bad guys when they left. The indictment has nothing to do with any relationship to Russia.”
Berman then seemed to paraphrase some of the statement: that the President “takes the information on its face” in that it has “nothing to do with him.”
The source added, per Berman: “The President is not planning to try to fire Robert Mueller.”
CNN also reported Monday, citing an unnamed official, that White House lawyers were discussing Manafort and Gates’ indictment with Trump the President Monday morning.
The White House did not reply to TPM’s request for comment.
The indictment against Manafort and Gates does not include any references to Trump or the 2016 presidential campaign, but it does partially describe criminal activity that took place at the same time as the campaign.