PHOENIX — U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) said the indictment of former presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort has nothing to do with Donald Trump, despite a federal investigation supposedly focusing on ties between the campaign and Russia.
“[Robert Mueller’s] investigation was supposed to be into Donald Trump’s potential involvement with Russia and yet this doesn’t have anything to do with Donald Trump,” Franks told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Monday.
The indictment — which doesn’t reference Trump campaign or coordination with the Kremlin — accused both Manafort and a former associate of funneling tens of millions of dollars in payments through foreign companies and bank accounts as part of their political work in Ukraine.
Franks said the indictment was likely an attempt to threaten Manafort to get him to turn against Trump.
“They’ll threaten Manafort in every way that they can to try to say, ‘Listen: We’re really not after you. We’re going to try to manufacture something against Donald Trump no matter what and, if you help us, it sure will go well for you.'”
The congressman said Mueller’s indictment was just another page from the Russia-obsessed playbook from the other side of the aisle.
“They keep pounding on one thing, no matter what, no matter how ineffective or untrue it is,” he said. “They don’t constrain themselves to facts.”
Franks went on to say that, if Mueller wanted to use the broad reach of his investigation to more effect, he should look into the Uranium One deal.
Some have alleged that former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s foundation was given a large donation in exchange for allowing a Russian-owned company to purchase the rights to about 20 percent of the United States’ uranium deposits.
Further investigation showed those claims to be false and Franks said he was not hopeful Mueller would look into it.
“I don’t think he will,” he said. “It would be great if he did. It might shut guys like me up.”