US President Donald Trump again denied that his presidential campaign colluded with Russian operatives, but made no comment on claims that he directly organised hush payments to ward off a possible sex scandal during his campaign for the presidency.
Trump took to Twitter, his primary means of communication, to address the multiple court filings that dropped on Friday in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
“AFTER TWO YEARS AND MILLIONS OF PAGES OF DOCUMENTS (and a cost of over $30,000,000), NO COLLUSION!” The president wrote on the social network on Saturday.
Mueller is investigating whether there was collusion between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia, which US intelligence agencies charge mounted an influence operation to sway the vote to Trump over his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
Russia denies interfering in the election to help Trump.
“Donald Trump has been implicated directly in campaign finance violations but it is not yet clear what these latest filings have to do with the Russian collusion investigation, if anything,” Al Jazeera’s correspondent Shihab Rattansi said, speaking from Washington, DC.
“However, taken in conjunction with this heavily redacted document that was filed earlier this week and in conjunction with the investigation into former security adviser Michael Flynn, there is plenty of speculation,” he continued.
Prosecutors directly implicated Trump in efforts to buy the silence of two women who claimed they had had affairs with him, saying he directed his then-attorney Michael Cohen to offer them hush money.
“With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election,” the prosecutors in New York said.
“In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1,” they added, referring to Trump.
The payments are technically unrelated to the Russia probe, but prosecutors painted a damning picture of the “extensive, deliberate, and serious criminal conduct” of Cohen – once a member of Trump’s inner circle of trusted aides.
In August, 52-year-old Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law in connection with the payments.
“Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election,” prosecutors said.