On Monday, Oct. 30, the first charges were made in the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign in an effort to influence the 2016 presidential election. Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were indicted in the investigation. Over two hours after the indictments were made public, President Donald Trump responded to Manafort's charges with what amounted to a defensive shrug.
Naturally, Trump made his response on Twitter, his favorite platform for ~presidential statements~ and general musings. He sent out a series of tweets on Monday morning at about 10:30 ET rejecting any implication of importance of the Manafort charges. The president tweeted,
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!" the president added in a follow-up tweet (and, yes, that is the entirety of his follow-up tweet).
Manafort and Gates were charged on 12 counts, including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, false statements, and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. All in all, it's not a very good look for those two.
But Manafort and Gates were also associated with Trump and his presidential campaign. Therefore, some logic users might argue, it's not a good look for Trump, either. However, Trump hasn't always been known as the best user of logic, and thus, he thoroughly rejects that any of this has anything to do with him. Here are his Monday morning tweets on the matter:
This general side-stepping is also a tool Fox News has been using throughout the morning. It's a tried and tested method to pivot all blame to Hillary Clinton, the Democrats, and the media by any means necessary. You'll see it at work, for instance, as Fox News commentators discuss whether CNN reporting on Friday that indictments were coming was a criminal act of leaking, which they talked about on Monday morning. It was also the method used by Trump when news came out that funding for the infamous Russian dossier reportedly came from the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Trump seems to believe that if he can get his supporters looking at the Democrats, Robert Mueller's investigation into his campaign will not have an impact.
We saw this just on Sunday when Trump tweeted about the investigation, throwing out controversial buzzwords about Clinton and the Democrats in what many deemed to be an attempt to distract from the real core of the story (investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia).
Bad news for the president, though: No matter how much he tweets, the investigation is still going on.
What that means is that, contrary to Trump's protesting tweet, there is not yet a conclusion of "NO COLLUSION!" The Mueller investigation is still investigating. Meanwhile, as many commentators have pointed out, a "collusion" investigation isn't exactly as straightforward as we'd all like to think.
MSNBC's Joy Reid laid it out in her own series of tweets on Monday:
Someone should send that quick explainer on over to the president sometime soon.
Trump is correct that the particulars of the indictments against Manafort and Gates did not specifically include his campaign but, rather, work they had allegedly done around Ukraine and Russia. Again, however, that does not mean that Mueller believes there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. It just means that these are the charges believed to have real, actionable evidence behind them.
Still, at this point, it's unclear what the charges mean exactly for the rest of the investigation. We'll just have to keep an eye out — and keep that eye on real news, not on Trump's distracting tweets.