WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he did not know that his former 2016 presidential campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, allegedly shared polling data with a business partner who prosecutors say had ties to Russian intelligence.
“No, I didn’t know anything about it,” he told reporters at the White House.
Manafort is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy against the United States and agreeing to cooperate with U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 contest and possible collusion with Trump’s campaign.
But U.S. prosecutors have since accused Manafort of lying to investigators, complicating his efforts to get a reduced sentence in exchange for his cooperation.
On Tuesday, Manafort’s defence lawyers inadvertently made Mueller’s specific accusations public in a court filing that detailed allegations that Manafort had shared polling data and other information with Konstantin Kilimnik, a former Manafort business partner who prosecutors say has ties to Russian intelligence.
Mueller’s team has also charged Kilimnik with conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice.
Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia and criticized Mueller’s ongoing probe as a “witch hunt.” Moscow has denied it meddled in the election.
Asked if he wanted the special counsel’s final report to be made public, Trump told reporters: “There’s been no collusion whatsoever – we’ll have to see.”
(Reporting by Steve Holland; additional reporting by Doina Chiacu; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)