Sarah Sanders on Stone arrest: ‘Nothing to do with the president’

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday said the arrest of former Trump campaign adviser Roger StoneRoger Jason Stone3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 Judge rejects Stone's request to dismiss charges Judge dismisses DNC lawsuit against Trump campaign, Russia over election interference MORE has no links to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump MORE, seeking to distance the president from the ensnarement of one of his close associates in the Russia investigation.

“This has nothing to do with the president and certainly nothing to do with the White House,” Sanders said on CNN. “This is something that has to do solely with that individual.”

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Sanders downplayed Stone as “somebody who has been a consultant for dozens of Republican presidents and candidates and members of Congress,” even though he had been known to speak frequently with Trump after leaving his campaign in 2015.

The comments came hours after Stone, a self-described dirty trickster, was arrested by the FBI on charges of obstruction of justice, witness tampering and lying to Congress.

According to the indictment unsealed early Thursday by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: 'I'd like to know' if Mueller read his own report MORE, senior Trump campaign officials were directed to contact Stone about the release of Democratic emails stolen by Russia and published by WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.

Sanders refused to say whether Trump was the person who directed campaign officials to reach out to Stone.

“I haven’t read this document,” she said. “I’m not an attorney. I’m not going to be able to get into the weeds on the specifics.”

Speaking to reporters later at the White House, Sanders bristled at the notion that Trump’s support for Stone encouraged the political operative to commit the alleged crimes.

“That is probably one of the more ridiculous and insulting questions to accuse the president of the United States of asking someone to break the law. That is — frankly, it's just insulting and it's just not true,” she said.

Trump in December praised Stone for publicly refusing to testify against him, tweeting “nice to know that some people still have ‘guts!’”

Sanders told reporters that she had spoken to Trump on Friday but added that she is not aware of any advance warning the Justice Department gave to the White House about Stone’s arrest.

Updated at 9:49 a.m.