Republican leaders declined Monday to discuss charges brought against former Trump campaign officials as part of an ongoing federal investigation into possible collusion with Russia.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell snuck out of a press conference on the four judicial nominees the chamber is expected to act on this week before media was allowed to ask questions.
The remaining seven Republican senators at the event all declined to take questions from reporters on the charges and instead only took inquiries related to the judicial nominees.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas — the only lawmaker to answer questions — side-stepped commenting and said: “that’s not our job, that’s not our wheelhouse.”
The choice by GOP senators not to weigh in on the developments that rocked Washington, D.C. and dominated the Monday news cycle mirrors a similar strategy from House Speaker Paul D. Ryan.
“I really don’t have anything to add other than nothing’s going to derail what we’re doing in Congress,” the Wisconsin Republican said during a radio interview earlier in the day. “Nothing derails us from focusing on that. That’s basically where a lot of our time and attention is focused on right now.”
Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, was indicted Monday on a dozen charges, including conspiracy against the United States. Rick Gates, a longtime Manafort associate, was also charged.
It was the first set of charges levied in the ongoing investigation by the Justice Department — led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — into Russian influence in the 2016 election.
Mueller on Monday also charged George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign, with providing false statements to federal investigators.