White House press secretary Sarah Sanders insisted Friday that the indictment of President Donald Trump’s longtime associate Roger Stone has nothing to with the President.
“This has nothing to do with the President and certainly nothing to do with the White House,” Sanders told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day” when asked for her reaction to Stone’s arrest. “This is something that has to do solely with that individual. And not something that affects us here in this building.”
Stone was indicted on charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, who alleges that Stone sought stolen emails from WikiLeaks that could damage Trump’s opponents while in coordination with senior Trump campaign officials. Stone was arrested at his home in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, early Friday morning.
The indictment states that “a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact Stone” about additional releases and other damaging information WikiLeaks had on the Clinton campaign – though it does not name who directed the senior Trump campaign official.
Sanders was asked several times by CNN on Friday if the President was the one who directed a senior campaign official to contact Stone.
She reiterated each time that the charges against Stone “have nothing to do with the President.”
“When you want to get into specific questions, you’ll have to talk to the President’s outside counsel on that,” she said, adding that she hadn’t read the indictment against Stone.
“The indictment today does not allege Russian collusion by Roger Stone or anyone else,” said Jay Sekulow, the President’s counsel, in a Friday statement. “Rather, the indictment focuses on alleged false statements Mr. Stone made to Congress.”
Sanders also told CNN that she was not aware of the White House receiving any notice from the Justice Department that the FBI would arrest Stone Friday morning.
When pointed to the fact that Stone is the sixth Trump associate charged in the Mueller investigation, Sanders said all the charges against each individual do not have anything to do with Trump.
“Just because they had some association with the President at some point doesn’t mean things that they did in their private lives and their personal lives that may or may not have been right or wrong, that doesn’t have anything to do with the President,” she said.
Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison for crimes that included two campaign finance violations tied to payments he made or helped arrange to silence two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.
Prosecutors said Cohen “acted in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump, who has denied the affairs and directing Cohen to break the law.