President Donald Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort on Monday denied any ties or involvement with the Russian government following FBI Director James Comey’s confirmation that it is investigating ties between Trump’s campaign or ‘orbit’ to Russia.
Manafort said that he “had no involvement” in the Kremlin’s intervention in the 2016 presidential election. The former Trump campaign chair said that he had no part in Russia’s hacking of certain Democratic groups, including the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta’s email, adding that he never spoke to Russian officials who claimed to be involved.
“I had no role or involvement in the cyberattack on the DNC or the subsequent release of information gained from the attack, and I have never spoken with any Russian Government officials or anyone who claimed to have been involved in the attack,” Manafort said in a statement.
“The suggestion that I ever worked in concert with anyone to release hacked emails or sought to undermine the interests of the United States is false,” he added.
Manafort broke his silence on Monday after the FBI Director made the bombshell revelations about the FBI’s investigation at the start of his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.
Fmr. Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort releases statement following House Intel Committee hearing on possible Trump team-Russia ties. pic.twitter.com/zDLuBt739S
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) March 20, 2017
At the core of the inquiry is whether Trump campaign officials or allies colluded with Russia in its attempt at meddling in the U.S. election. All seventeen U.S. intelligence agencies have already reached a rare unanimous conclusion that Russia interfered in the election and attempted to place its thumb on the scale in favor of Donald Trump and against Hillary Clinton.
“Despite the constant scrutiny and innuendo, there are no facts or evidence supporting these allegations, nor will there be,” Manafort said in his statement, calling the story a “blatant attempt to discredit me and the legitimacy of the election of Donald Trump.”
The former Trump campaign chair has long been the subject of suspicions, mainly because of the work he has performed for Ukraine’s pro-Russia former government.
The White House was defiant in response to the explosive revelations, but did try to distance itself from Manafort and other Trump associates who have been reported to have contact with Russia or Russians with close ties to the government.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Monday came under wide criticism for describing Manafort as a person who “played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time,” in the Trump campaign.