Latest: 'Crooked' Democrats 'in a dither' over Podesta resignation, Donald Trump claims

Update 5.30pm: President Donald Trump has said the "biggest story" out of the charges announced on Monday in the Russia investigation is the resignation of Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta from his eponymous firm.

Mr Podesta, the elder brother of former Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta, announced he would step aside from powerhouse Democratic firm The Podesta Group after coming under investigation by Robert Mueller.

"The biggest story yesterday, the one that has the Dems in a dither, is Podesta running from his firm," Mr Trump wrote in a two-part tweet.

"What he know about Crooked Dems is....earth shattering. He and his brother could Drain The Swamp, which would be yet another campaign promise fulfilled. Fake News weak!"

Court papers unsealed on Monday revealed an indictment against Mr Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and a guilty plea by another adviser, who admitted to lying to the FBI about meetings with Russian intermediaries.

AP

Update 1.45pm: President Donald Trump has said a former campaign aide thrust into the centre of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe "has already proven to be a liar".

On Twitter, Mr Trump sought to dismiss George Papadopoulos, who has provided key evidence in the first criminal case connecting Mr Trump's team to alleged intermediaries for Russia's government.

Mr Trump said: "Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the Dems!"

Papadopoulos was approached by people claiming ties to Russia and offering "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails, according to court documents unsealed on Monday.

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about the conversations and has been cooperating with investigators, the documents said.

AP

Earlier: A new phase has been entered in the sprawling investigation into Russia and US President Donald Trump with the charging of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and two other aides.

The move underscores the continuing threat special counsel Robert Mueller poses to the president.

Mr Trump immediately sought to distance himself after Paul Manafort and Rick Gates pleaded not guilty on Monday to a 12-count indictment alleging money laundering, conspiracy and other offences.

Another former aide was revealed to be co-operating with authorities after entering a guilty plea to lying to the FBI.

White House officials were publicly optimistic about Mr Mueller's investigation wrapping up swiftly, but the probe is far from over and its reach still uncertain.

Robert Mueller

Mr Trump has become increasingly concerned that the Mueller probe could be moving beyond Russia to an investigation into his personal dealings, two people familiar with the president's thinking said.

Mr Trump expressed irritation on Monday that he was being tarnished by his former aides.

In the hours after the indictment, the president angrily told one confidant that Mr Manafort had been a campaign "part-timer" who had only helped steer the convention and got too much credit for Mr Trump's ability to hold on to the nomination, according to a person familiar with the private discussion.

Mr Trump dismissed the money-laundering charges against Mr Manafort as typical political corruption that did not reflect on his campaign, one of the people said.

The president also insisted that the charges predated Mr Manafort's time on the campaign and that he should not be held responsible for any prior misdeeds by him.

Mr Trump used Twitter to argue that allegations against Mr Manafort were from "years ago" and asserted there was "NO COLLUSION" between his campaign and Russia.

But the indictment against Mr Manafort and Mr Gates details allegations stretching from 2006 to 2017.

Mr Trump's insistence that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia was complicated by the disclosure that campaign adviser George Papadopoulos was answering questions from prosecutors after admitting he lied about his unsuccessful attempts to broker a meeting between Mr Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The White House tried to play down the campaign role of Mr Papadopoulos, who Mr Trump named as a foreign policy adviser in March 2016, saying the aide's attempts to earn assistance from Russian nationals were unauthorised.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed him as an unpaid "volunteer" and said "no activity was ever done in an official capacity on behalf of the campaign in that regard".

Mr Mueller's office revealed in a court filing that Mr Papadopoulos was now assisting the investigation as a "proactive co-operator".

Mr Trump fumed in recent weeks that he believes Mr Mueller was taking an expansive view of his role and looking beyond the narrow definition of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

The president publicly mused in a July interview that he might look to fire the special counsel if Mr Mueller began looking into his business dealings.

AP


KEYWORDS: Donald Trump, Russia

 

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