Russian officials were watching closely when special counsel Robert Mueller brought charges against President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and Rick Gates and noted that Moscow had nothing to do with the indictments.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow noted the absence of allegations against Russia, saying Moscow has always maintained it never meddled in the U.S. election.
“…Russia does not feature in the charges that were leveled in any way. Other countries and other people feature [in the charges],” Peskov said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.
Five months into the investigation of alleged Russian efforts to throw the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump, federal investigators charged Manafort and Gates with money laundering on Monday. The indictments centered on Manafort’s work for Ukraine’s former government, not Russia‘s.
“Moscow never felt itself guilty so as to feel exonerated now,” Peskov said when asked whether the Kremlin interpreted the indictment as proof that its repeated denials about meddling in the U.S. presidential election had been confirmed.
He said the investigation was an internal matter for the United States in which Russia was not involved, but indicated they will continue to follow the case with interest from afar.
He also commented on details of a case against a third former Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty in early October to lying to the FBI.
Papadopoulos told investigators about his efforts to set up a meeting between the Trump campaign and the Russian leadership during which he said he met a London-based professor boasting of contacts with Russian officials and a Russian woman whom he described as a relative of President Vladimir Putin.
The case against Papadopoulos also mentions his contacts with someone who has links to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
When asked what the Kremlin made of the details about someone linked to the Russian Foreign Ministry being cited in the Papadopoulos case, Peskov told reporters, “It’s an absolutely laughable allegation.”