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 StoneNew filing suggests Mueller has evidence Stone communicated with WikiLeaks Judge in Roger Stone case restricts public comments Stone takes shot at Mueller's office in new filing MORE has no links to President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job 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 Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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.