In a historic blot on the fabric of American democracy, President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his associate Richard Gates were indicted this morning on multiple charges including conspiracy against the United States. Also indicted was former Trump advisor George Papadopoulos, who has already plead guilty to lying to investigators about collaborations with Russia.
After the bombshell, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders addressed reporters and promptly deflected attention with a bizarre anecdote pulled from chain emails about how rich people shouldn’t have to pay for their poor friends beer.
She then addressed the only thing on anybody’s mind: the unprecedented charges against a president’s close associates, insisting this isn’t about President Trump. It’s about — you guessed it — Hillary Clinton.
“Today’s announcement has nothing to do with the president, has nothing to do with the president’s campaign or campaign activity,” Sanders said. “The real collusion scandal as we’ve said several times before has everything to do with the Clinton campaign, Fusion GPS, and Russia.”
That the White House’s response is laughably predictable should not detract from its brazen attempt to spread obvious deceit from the highest levels for the most self-serving reasons.
Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators, and while Sanders insists that it “has nothing to do with the White House,” those lies were directly linked to Trump campaign dealings. According to the indictment:
“[D]efendant PAPADOPOULOS met the Professor [the foreign contact] for the first time on or about March 14, 2016, after defendant PAPADOPOULOS had already learned he would be a foreign policy advisor for the Campaign; the Professor showed interest in defendant PAPADOPOULOS only after learning of his role on the Campaign; and the Professor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS about the Russians possessing” dirt” on then-candidate Clinton in late April 2016, more than a month after defendant PAPADOPOULOS had joined the Campaign.”
That interaction is the subject of Papadopoulos’ lies, in which he claimed to know “the professor” before joining the Trump campaign and arguing that the meetings were unrelated. Therefore Papadopoulos’ deception, had he not been caught, would have shielded Trump, and allegedly, was intended to do just that.
As usual, the allegations against Hillary Clinton are a disingenuous, fact-free side show deliberately designed to mislead.
Mueller and his team are not misled however, and they remain hot on a trail that leads directly to the President of the United States. While Sanders and Trump’s other conspirators are focused on placating their racist base, they are only making their future situations worse when investigators come knocking on their doors.
Just as in Watergate, it’s unlikely to be the original crimes that take down the president but the cover-up that follows. Sanders may think she’s covering her tracks, but she’s really digging herself a deeper hole.