Russia Claps Back at First Indictments in Trump Russia Probe

MOSCOW, RUSSIA OCTOBER 26, 2017: Russia's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova gives a briefing on the current Russian foreign policy and international relations. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images)

Russia's foreign ministry's response to the special counsel's indictment against Paul Manafort stressed that the indictment did not specifically implicate or accuse Russia of meddling in last year's presidential election. Former Trump campaign chairman Manafort and his longtime business partner Rick Gates face 12 counts of “conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.”

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry, pointed out that the 31-page indictment wrongly describes Yulia Tymoshenko as a former president of Ukraine when, in fact, Tymoshenko served as the country's prime minister for two terms before being jailed on charges of embezzlement.

"I liked a lot the bit that, it turns out, according to the recent findings of American enforcers, the Ukrainian president before [Viktor] Yanukovych was Yulia Tymoshenko," Zakharova said during a state television broadcast. "We did not know that, but there you go." She suggested that the error undermines the rest of the indictment. This is a very important moment showing the way how, once again, this document had been made, cooked up," Zakharova said. "You understand when you talk about serious investigation one cannot allow things like that."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow noted the absence of allegations against Russia in the indictment. “...Russia does not feature in the charges that were levelled in any way. Other countries and other people feature [in the charges],” Peskov said during a conference call with reporters. “Moscow never felt itself guilty so as to feel exonerated now,” he added.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump continued to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

The president insisted that Manafort's indictment was nothing more than a "fake news" ploy perpetuated by the mainstream media and Congressional Democrats.

Trump also downplayed the role George Papadopolous, his campaign foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty to lying about his Russian contacts to FBI agents, played during last year's election.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also called Papadopolous a volunteer and said Papadopoulos's role in the campaign was "extremely limited."

"No activity was ever done in an official capacity on behalf of the campaign," Sanders said yesterday.

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