Former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort shot back Monday against suggestions he played any part in the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails, saying his is "disappointed" to be dragged into the controversy by people wanting to make political hay.
"I had no role or involvement in the cyber attack on the DNC or the subsequent release of information gained from the attack, and I've never spoken with any Russian government officials or anyone who claimed to have been involved in the attack," Manafort said in a prepared statement reported on Fox News Channel's "The Five."
"The suggestion that I ever worked in concert with anyone to release hacked emails or sought to undermine the interests of the United States is false," Manafort said. "Despite the constant scrutiny and innuendo, there are no facts or evidence supporting these allegations, nor will there be. I'm disappointed that anyone would give credence to the allegations made by individuals with political involvement in the blatant attempt to discredit me and the legitimacy of the election of Donald Trump."
Manafort has been under scrutiny by the left and the mainstream press ever since last summer when he took a prominent role in Trump's campaign. Revelations of his past business ties with Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs and with former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, eventually led to his resignation.
But Manafort's name is being invoked again as Democrats continue to push their case that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to swing the presidential election against Hillary Clinton.
Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., brought up the theory Monday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" while discussing the president's claims that Trump Tower was wiretapped at former President Barack Obama's direction.
"Let's imagine that there was something there. It's not a wiretap ordered by Obama on Trump Tower. Maybe it's one of Trump's people — maybe it's [Paul] Manafort or [Roger] Stone — that had some sort of investigation around them… then, too, the American people have a right to know," Himes said. "Were there connections? Was there knowledge of what the Russians were doing by any of Trump's people?
"If you actually had Trump people working with the Russians, that would be a historical scandal," Himes said. "It could simply be knowledge. What if somebody like Roger Stone or Paul Manafort or any of the characters here who had these bizarre meetings with Russia — and most of them then dissembled about whether they had those meetings — what if they simply knew?"
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