House Speaker Paul Ryan declined to comment Monday on news that a federal grand jury had indicted Paul Manafort, the former chairman of the Trump campaign, on 12 counts including conspiracy against the United States.
Ryan continued to keep his focus on tax reform, saying that the indictments of Manafort and Rick Gates, his business associate, will not affect the Republican tax reform effort. He did concede that the indictments were "big news," but said he had not read the indictments.
"I really don't have anything to add other than nothing's going to derail what we're doing in Congress because what we're working on — solving people's problems, and one of the big problems is our economy isn't hitting its potential and people deserve a tax break, especially middle class taxpayers and businesses who are struggling to compete globally," Ryan told Wisconsin radio host Jerry Bader when asked about the Manafort news.
"Nothing derails us from focusing on that. That's basically where a lot of our time and attention is focused on right now," Ryan said.
Ryan also declined to offer his take on the news while speaking to reporters after an event in Darien, Wis., and declined to address whether the Mueller investigation should continue amid concerns from some within Republican circles.
"I have nothing to add to these indictments other than this is what Bob Mueller was tasked to do. I haven't read the indictments. I don't know of the specific details of the indictments. That's how the judicial process works," Ryan said.
"It is big news. It's big news, but this is what you get from a special counsel. They made an indictment. I really have nothing to add because I haven't even read it, so I'm not going to speculate on something I haven't read, so there's just no point in doing that."
Manafort and Gates both turned themselves in Monday morning after the indictments were unsealed.
In addition to the conspiracy charge, Manafort and Gates are also facing counts of making false and misleading Foreign Agents Registration Act statements, serving as an unregistered foreign principal, along with seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.
Meanwhile, Republicans are expected to release tax reform legislation on Wednesday after passing a budget last week, officially opening the door to tax discussions.