WASHINGTON — President Trump and his representatives on Monday dismissed the charges leveled against three former campaign advisers, saying none of them proved that he had colluded with Russia last year to influence the presidential election.
The White House said that the indictment of Paul J. Manafort, the president’s former campaign chairman, and Rick Gates, his deputy, as well as the guilty plea of George Papadopoulous, a former campaign adviser, had nothing to do with Mr. Trump or his election operation. Instead, it sought to refocus attention on Democrats and their actions during the campaign.
“Today’s announcement has nothing to do with the president, has nothing to do with the president’s campaign or campaign activity,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary. Responding to questions at her daily briefing, she said, “We’ve been saying from day one there’s been no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, and nothing in the indictment today changes that at all.”
Jay Sekulow, a private attorney for Mr. Trump, said the president and his legal team were not worried about the indictments, which could be used by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, to seek testimony that could implicate other targets.
“No, not concerned,” Mr. Sekulow said on CNN. “I’m completely convinced as I was from the outset that not only was there no Russian collusion, there was no obstruction.” He added: “I’m not concerned about this at all and no one else is either.”
On Twitter, Mr. Trump reacted only to the indictment of Mr. Manafort on tax fraud, money laundering and foreign lobbying violations, arguing that it was not relevant to the campaign since it dealt with prior private business.
In the first of two tweets, Mr. Trump wrote: “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?????”
In a second tweet minutes later, Mr. Trump added: “….Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”
He made no comment on the guilty plea by Mr. Papadopoulous, who admitted lying to the F.B.I. about his efforts to connect Mr. Trump’s campaign with Russian government officials.
At her briefing, Ms. Sanders repeatedly insisted that Mr. Papadopolous was just “a volunteer” in the president’s campaign, and she downplayed his role by saying that he was “a volunteer member of an advisory council that literally met one time.”
Ms. Sanders insisted that Trump campaign officials rebuffed all of his efforts to put them in touch with Russians. “You mean the outreach that was repeatedly denied, and pushed away?” she said. “He reached out and nothing happened beyond that.”
His guilty plea, she said, was unrelated to his campaign efforts. “It has nothing to do with the activities of the campaign,” Ms. Sanders said. “It has to do with his failure to tell the truth that doesn’t have anything to do with the campaign or the campaign’s activities.”
Democrats jumped on the indictments, showing no hesitation to link the allegations against Trump campaign aides to Mr. Trump himself.
“We know today that the Trump presidential campaign was run by a Russian foreign agent now charged with conspiring against the United States,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut. “This indictment is a sober, shattering moment and a major step toward answers and accountability for the American people. The President now owes the American people a serious explanation of his decision to hire Manafort and his own knowledge of this conspiracy.”
Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, keyed in Mr. Papadopoulis, who “pleaded guilty to lying to F.B.I. investigators about his contacts with a Russian individual with ‘substantial connections’ with Russian government officials who discussed possessing ‘dirt’ on then-candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails.”
“These indictments and guilty plea demonstrate beyond any doubt that this is a consequential investigation, and it must be allowed to move forward without political interference,” he said in a statement.
Ms. Sanders said that Mr. Manafort and the president have not spoken in months. She said that Mr. Gates had been at the White House several times since the inauguration, but she declined to say for certain whether Mr. Trump had spoken to Mr. Gates.
“I know that there was some initial contact after the president was sworn in,” she said, but said that she was not certain there was anything “directly with the president.”
Both Ms. Sanders and Mr. Sekulow disputed suggestions that Mr. Trump might seek to fire Mr. Mueller. “There’s no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the special counsel,” Ms. Sanders said.
The two also played down the possibility that Mr. Trump might pardon Mr. Manafort or others caught in the special counsel’s investigation. “I haven’t had a conversation with the president about pardons or pardoning individuals,” said Mr. Sekulow. Ms. Sanders likewise said that she had not spoken with the president about the possibility of pardons.
The president’s team again pointed to the Democrats to argue that they were the ones who were collaborating with Russia because of a salacious dossier of allegations against Mr. Trump produced by a firm called Fusion GPS that was paid in part by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
“The real collusion scandal as we’ve said several times before has everything to do with the Clinton campaign, Fusion GPS and Russia,” Ms. Sanders said. “There’s clear evidence of the Clinton campaign colluding with Russian intelligence to spread disinformation and smear the president to influence the election.”