The Washington Post Editorial Board was disappointed in President Trump’s response to his former campaign manager Paul Manafort’s grand jury indictment, so the board opted to write its own.
HERE IS how President Trump responded to the news that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has brought charges against Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Mr. Manafort’s deputy and a foreign policy aide on Mr. Trump’s campaign:
Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus????? . . . Also, there is NO COLLUSION!
Here is what a presidential president might have said:
“I will not deny that the charges made public today by Mr. Mueller are serious. Mr. Manafort and his deputy and business associate Richard Gates have pleaded not guilty and deserve the legal presumption of innocence foundational to our justice system. However, if the allegations of money laundering and tax evasion prove to be true, then all Americans — including myself and my supporters — should be troubled by the conduct of Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates. I am particularly disturbed that this money laundering may have continued through the period during which they worked for my campaign. Though I had no involvement in Mr. Manafort’s alleged activities, I decided to hire him and must take full responsibility for my poor choice of staff.
“I am also disturbed by the news that my former foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, has pleaded guilty to the charge of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The information contained in the recently unsealed court documents shows that Mr. Papadopoulos worked to put my campaign in touch with Russian government officials and was told they had ‘dirt’ on the Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton. Though I favor warmer relations between the United States and Russia, such an attempt to collaborate with a foreign government is a danger to our democratic process.
“Now is not the time to deflect blame, nor is it the time to focus on possible wrongdoing by my opponent. As president, it is right and appropriate that I and those around me face increased scrutiny proportional to the burdens of my office and the seriousness of these allegations.
“For that reason, I recognize that the special counsel must be allowed to continue his probe without interference, and I pledge my administration’s full and open cooperation with both Mr. Mueller and the ongoing congressional investigations into possible Russian meddling in the election. The principles at stake are higher than partisan advantage or the fate of my administration. Foreign interference in our democracy should be of paramount concern no matter our party affiliation — and I owe it to the American people to do all I can to prevent such interference from taking place again.
“Leaders in a democracy must work to earn the public’s trust anew every day. I hope my efforts to support the special counsel in his work will reassure all Americans of my commitment to our nation’s founding principles, no matter the circumstances of my election. I am humbled both by the great responsibility you have given me and by the knowledge that in a democracy, nobody is above the law — not even the president.”
The Post, like much of mainstream media, sees the Manafort indictment as evidence of collusion with Russia during the election. Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor who has written about white-collar crime for The New York Times, said he sees it differently.
“Anything related to the election is tangential” at this point, Henning said in an interview with CNBC, noting the accusations against Manafort are “a couple steps removed at best.”
“Everyone thinks ‘Manafort, Trump,’ but I don’t see anything at all related to Trump,” he said.