For once, Donald Trump appears to be following his team’s message on a major event. The White House hasn’t officially responded to special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, but when Trump predictably took to Twitter late Monday morning, he was right in line with the unofficial response that had started trickling out of the White House as much as an hour earlier:

It has nothing to do with me and also Mueller should be paying attention to my favorite conspiracy theories.

If he means “there is no collusion yet mentioned in this set of charges,” true. But there are no guarantees this set of charges is the end of the story.

That’s the White House line, though—as one source had earlier told CNN’s Jim Acosta, “today has zero to do with the White House.” Yes. For sure, when a special counsel looking into people associated with Donald Trump indicts two people who’ve been significantly associated with Donald Trump, that has zero to do with the White House. But that’s what they’re going with.

CNN’s Sara Murray reports that:


Another source close to the WH echoes this sentiment, saying the bad behavior of Manafort/Gates has little to do with the Trump campaign or the Russia investigation.



“These guys were bad guys when they started, they were bad guys when they left,” the source said.



On the indictment: “It has nothing to do with any relationship to Russia.”



As for how the president is likely to take this news: “I think he takes it on its face,” the source said. “It has nothing to do with him.”


Wait wait wait. They were bad guys … and this has nothing to do with Donald Trump? Even if we stop with the idea that “bad guys” were on his team. And remember, no matter how much Trump tries to distance himself, Manafort was not a bit player in his campaign.

Trump has been briefed on the charges against Manafort and Gates, CNN reports, and his subsequent tweets show that it’s a lot easier getting Trump to stay on message when the message is “we didn’t know him, never heard of him, none of this has anything to do with us.” That’s the kind of ridiculously false message Trump can really embrace.