- REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
- White House senior staff members learned that President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort had been indicted just minutes before their morning meeting with chief of staff John Kelly. The staff meets in the Roosevelt Room for its lack of distractions, but eliminating distractions wasn’t possible on Monday.
White House staffers had an uneasy start to their week Monday morning, with an announcement looming that special counsel Robert Mueller’s office would soon be announcing the first criminal charges in the Russia investigation.
Senior staff members were just minutes from entering their daily morning meeting with White House chief of staff John Kelly in the Roosevelt Room when they received the alerts on their phones: Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump, had been indicted on 12 charges.
Axios’ Jonathan Swan cited sources who said the news was a distraction for those present – a departure from the typical mood in the Roosevelt Room, which Kelly chooses for his meetings because of its lack of TVs.
White House attorney Ty Cobb conveyed that the White House would not have a response to the indictments, the sources told Axios.
Manafort and his associate Rick Gates, who was also indicted on Monday, pleaded not guilty to their charges, which include laundering millions of dollars and conspiracy against the United States.
Newly unsealed court documents also revealed that George Papadopoulos, an adviser for the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty this month for making false statements to the FBI about his interactions with Russia.
The government set Manafort’s bail at $10 million. His indictment represents the most drastic step yet in Mueller’s investigation of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in its effort to interfere with the US election.