Manafort charged with 'conspiracy against the United States'
UPDATED 11:10 PM ET, 10/30/2017
On Monday morning, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and his assistant, Rick Gates, turned themselves in to the FBI just before the Justice Department released the 12-count indictment filed against them by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The charges, to which both Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty, include:
- Conspiracy against the United States
- Conspiracy to launder money
- Unregistered agent of a foreign principal
- False and misleading Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) statements
- False statements
- Seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts
As David A. Graham observes at The Atlantic, “the indictments represent the first cases to emerge from Mueller’s apparently wide-ranging investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.” For months, Manafort had been the subject of intense scrutiny by the Special Counsel. Amid speculation back on August that Mueller was “squeezing” Manafort in order to flip him as a witness, reports emerged that Manafort’s Alexandria, Va. home had in late July been raided by the FBI, which seized “tax documents and banking records,” according to Newsweek’s Greg Price.
CNN first reported the indictment on Friday, although the target of the charges wasn’t known until this morning, mostly because the extensive range of the investigation kept everybody guessing: Mueller has been looking into, among other things:
- The infamous June 2016 meeting Donald Trump Jr. held with Jared Kushner, Manafort, and a Russian lawyer who’d promised dirt on Hillary Clinton;
- The president’s abrupt dismissal of James Comey;
- The activities of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor;
- Russian use of social media, notably Facebook, Twitter, and Google, to influence the election.
The judge "ordered house arrest for both [Manafort and Gates], and set a $10 million unsecured bond for Manafort and a $5 million unsecured bond for Gates," according to Reuters and, meanwhile, the war for hearts and minds began: both the Trump administration and Manafort's lawyer pushed back against the narrative of collusion that was quickly emerging in the press, taking a nothing-to-see-here strategy regarding the indictments while also seeking to stoke fire around the news that Hillary Clinton's campaign had funded the opposition research that produced the now-infamous Trump dossier.
Complicating that picture, however, is the news that George Papadopoulos, a a foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign, "pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about meeting a professor with Russian ties who had promised to provide 'dirt' on" Clinton.