Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime associate Rick Gates have been indicted on a wide range of charges by special prosecutor Robert Mueller.
Manafort and Gates have been indicted on 12 counts for acting as unregistered foreign agents, money laundering, and conspiracy against the United States among other things.
From the Associated Press:
The indictment filed in federal court in Washington accused both men of funneling payments through foreign companies and bank accounts as part of their political work in Ukraine. Manafort and Gates surrendered to federal authorities Monday, and were expected in court later in the day to face charges brought by Mueller’s team.
The indictment lays out 12 counts including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, acting as an unregistered foreign agent, making false statements and several charges related to failing to report foreign bank and financial accounts. The indictment alleges the men moved money through hidden bank accounts in Cyprus, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Seychelles.
The Manafort and Gates indictment is light on immediate connections to Russian interference in the 2016 election, but a former Trump adviser has also been indicted and pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with the Russians.
Former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos has formally pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, but he appears to be cooperating with special prosecutor Robert Mueller in an effort to catch bigger fish.
The charges against Papadopoulos lay out his coordination with Russian agents who had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.
Papadopoulos “made material false statements and material omissions” during a Jan. 27 interview with the FBI, according to the statement. He was arrested July 27. Prosecutors agreed to recommend between no prison time to six months under the plea agreement.
Papadopoulos told the FBI an overseas professor had “told him about the Russians possessing ‘dirt’ on then-candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of ‘thousands of emails,’ but stated multiple times that he learned that information prior to joining the campaign,” according to court documents. In fact, Papadopoulos was contacted after he learned he’d be joining the campaign, and the professor only mentioned the “thousands of emails” after he’d been on the Trump campaign for more than a month.
These charges obviously raise more questions that I expect we'll get answers to in the very near future. More specifically, I have questions about these "thousands of emails" and how exactly they ended up in the hands of WikiLeaks. Did the rest of the Trump campaign know they were coming? Did they coordinate their release with WikiLeaks?
The fact that Papadopoulos was arrested in July and has been cooperating ever since without it being reported in the press tells me the leaks we've seen in recent weeks did not come from the special prosecutor's team. They must have come from someone who works for the court system, a high-ranking congressional staffer, someone at the Justice Department, or some combination of all.
It seems plausible that the indictment of Manafort is just the first step of gaining his cooperation or flushing other cockroaches out of hiding.