Today's Paper Latest stories Most commented Wally Hall Traffic Weather Obits Newsletters Puzzles + Games
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
story.lead_photo.caption Paul Manafort makes his way through television cameras Monday as he walks from Federal District Court in Washington after pleading innocent to felony charges of conspiracy against the United States and other counts.

WASHINGTON -- Special counsel Robert Mueller on Monday revealed charges against three former officials with President Donald Trump's campaign, the first criminal allegations to come from probes into possible Russian influence in U.S. political affairs.

Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime business partner, onetime Trump aide Rick Gates, were indicted on 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 as part of their work advising a Russia-friendly political party in Ukraine. The indictment alleges the men moved money through hidden bank accounts in Cyprus, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Seychelles.

Manafort and Gates pleaded innocent in a brief appearance in D.C. federal court Monday afternoon. A federal magistrate judge put the men under house arrest, and both surrendered their passports to the FBI. The next hearing in the case is to be Thursday before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, a 2011 appointee of President Barack Obama who previously worked as federal prosecutor in the District of Columbia.

Manafort's indictment doesn't refer to the Trump campaign or make any allegations about coordination between Russia and campaign aides. But it does allege a criminal conspiracy was continuing through February of this year, after Trump had taken office.

[DOCUMENT: Read the indictment charging Manafort and Gates]

The third man charged -- former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos -- has already pleaded guilty to making a false statement to FBI investigators who asked about his contacts with a foreigner claiming to have high-level Russian connections. He admitted in newly unsealed court papers that he was told in April 2016 that the Russians had "dirt" on Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails," well before it became public that the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails had been hacked.

Papadopoulos' plea agreement was signed earlier this month and unsealed Monday. Mueller's office revealed in a court filing that Papadopoulos was now assisting the investigation as a "proactive cooperator."

The investigation, which the FBI began last year but escalated significantly with Mueller's appointment in May, has repeatedly put the president on the defensive as reports have emerged about the work the special counsel team is doing.

The president himself took to Twitter to declare in all capital letters that there is "no collusion," after tweeting, "Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren't Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????"

Trump's spokesman and lawyer also sought to cast the charges as more damaging to Clinton.

"Today's announcement has nothing to do with the president, has nothing to do with the president's campaign or campaign activity," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. "The real collusion scandal, as we've said several times before, has everything to do with the Clinton campaign, [research firm] Fusion GPS and Russia."

Sanders said Trump had little reaction to the indictments.

"He responded the same way the rest of us in the White House have," she said, "and that's without a lot of reaction, because it doesn't have anything to do with us."

[PRESIDENT TRUMP: Timeline, appointments, executive orders + guide to actions in first 200 days]

One person familiar with Trump's thinking said the president dismissed the money-laundering charges against Manafort as typical political corruption that did not reflect on his campaign.

Ty Cobb, a White House lawyer overseeing the administration's handling of the Mueller probe, said, "The one thing that's clear is there's no reference to collusion, no reference to the president."

Asked about the indictments while attending a luncheon in Little Rock, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he was not surprised.

"I think it shows the seriousness of the investigation, the very substantive work that Bob Mueller is doing," Hutchinson said. "Beyond that, this is a process that you've got to see unfold and learn more about it."

Sanders said Trump had "no intention or plan to make any changes with regard to the special counsel," and Cobb said there had been no talk of possible pardons for Manafort or Gates.

"No, no, no. That's never come up and won't come up," Cobb said in an interview.

Outside the D.C. courthouse, Kevin Downing, a lawyer for Manafort, said: "President Donald Trump was correct. There is no evidence that Mr. Manafort and the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government."

Glenn Selig, a Gates spokesman, said Gates "welcomes the opportunity to confront these charges in court."

"This fight is just beginning," Selig said.

Papadopoulos

Court documents revealed that Papadopoulos was first arrested and charged in July after landing at Dulles International Airport on a flight from Germany.

Papadopoulos had been a member of Trump's foreign policy team. When The Washington Post asked Trump about the team in March 2016, he said of Papadopoulos, "He's an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy."

Earlier that month, Papadopoulos, 30, first communicated with a professor in London with links to the Russian government, according to court documents unsealed Monday. The professor was later identified as Joseph Mifsud, according to a Senate aide familiar with the case.

The professor took interest in Papadopoulos "because of his status with the campaign," court documents said.

The relationship between Papadopoulos and Mifsud would lead Papadopoulos to two other people with ties to the Russian government and to attempts to arrange a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, the documents said.

Papadopoulos emailed a campaign supervisor and other members of the campaign's foreign policy team, claiming the professor had introduced him to Russian President Vladimir Putin's niece and the Russian ambassador in London, and the purpose was "to arrange a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump," court documents said.

The government noted the woman was not Putin's niece, and the meeting with the Russian ambassador never happened. But through the summer of 2016, Papadopoulos continued to correspond with the woman and the professor about a meeting between the Trump campaign, possibly including Trump himself, and Russian officials.

"The Russian government has an open invitation by Putin for Mr. Trump to meet him when he is ready," Papadopoulos wrote to a senior policy adviser for the campaign on April 25, 2016.

At one point, a campaign official forwarded one of Papadopoulos's emails to another campaign official, saying, "We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal." DT would appear to be a reference to Donald Trump.

When the FBI first interviewed Papadopoulos in January, he told agents that Mifsud was "a nothing." But Papadopoulos now acknowledges that he knew the professor had "substantial connections to Russian government officials."

After he was interviewed by the FBI a second time, Papadopoulos changed his phone number and deleted a Facebook account that he used to communicate with Russian officials, according to the court documents.

Sanders said Papadopoulos had an "extremely limited" volunteer role in the campaign, and said that "no activity was ever done in an official capacity on behalf of the campaign in that regard." When asked about a photo showing Papadopoulos as a member of the foreign policy team, Sanders replied, "The president has thousands of photographs with millions of people."

Attempts to reach Papadopoulos, who is based in Chicago, and his relatives in that area were unsuccessful Monday.

Lawyers for Papadopoulos said in a statement: "We will have the opportunity to comment on George's involvement when called upon by the Court at a later date. We look forward to telling all of the details of George's story at that time."

The charges

The indictment naming Manafort and Gates alleges that more than $75 million flowed through offshore accounts. Manafort is accused of laundering more than $18 million.

Manafort, 68, was fired as Trump's campaign chairman in August 2016 after word surfaced that he had orchestrated a covert lobbying operation on behalf of pro-Russian interests in Ukraine. The indictment against Manafort and Gates was largely based on activities disclosed in August 2016 by The Associated Press, which reported that the pair had managed a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine's ruling political party.

Specifically, the indictment accuses Manafort of using "his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States, without paying taxes on that income." That included using offshore accounts to purchase multimillion-dollar properties in the U.S., some of which the government is seeking to seize.

The indictment also cites more than $900,000 in payments to an antique rug store, about $850,000 to a New York men's clothing store and the purchase of a Mercedes Benz and multiple Range Rovers.

Manafort also had registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for parts of Ukrainian work that occurred in Washington. The filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act came retroactively, a tacit acknowledgment that he operated in Washington in violation of the federal transparency law. The indictment Monday accuses Manafort and Gates of making several false and misleading statements in that Foreign Agents Registration Act filing.

Manafort and Gates also were accused of trying to hide funds kept in foreign bank accounts -- Manafort from 2011 to 2014, and Gates from 2012 to 2014. And Manafort was accused of filing fraudulent tax returns, stating on tax forms he filed from 2008 to 2014 that he controlled no foreign bank accounts.

Manafort has expected charges since this summer, when FBI agents raided his home and prosecutors warned him that they planned to indict him. That warning raised speculation that Manafort might try to cut a deal to avoid prosecution.

People close to Manafort, including his former business partner Roger Stone, have said he had nothing to offer that would help prosecutors build a case against Trump.

"He's not going to lie," Stone said in September.

While Mueller's probe has focused on Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, investigators have shown interest in a broad array of other topics.

Those include meetings the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow in December, and a June 2016 meeting at Trump tower involving the president's son, Donald Jr., and a Russian lawyer. Mueller's team has requested extensive records from the White House, covering areas including the president's private discussions about firing James Comey as FBI director and his response to news that Flynn was under investigation, according to two people briefed on the requests.

Mueller is also investigating whether Trump obstructed justice leading up to Comey's firing.

Information for this article was contributed by Matt Zapotosky, Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol D. Leonnig Spencer S. Hsu, Devlin Barrett, Alice Crites, Sari Horwitz, Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker and Adam Entous of The Washington Post; by Eileen Sullivan, Glenn Thrush, Adam Goldman and Nicholas Fandos of The New York Times; by John Moritz of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; and by Chad Day, Eric Tucker, Zeke Miller, Jonathan Lemire, Michael Biesecker, Stephen Braun, Tom LoBianco, Sadie Gurman, Ken Thomas and Jeff Horwitz of The Associated Press.

Photo by SOURCE: AP / Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
The charges against Manafort and Gates
Photo by AP/DANA VERKOUTEREN
A court artist drawing shows Paul Manafort (center), President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, and Rick Gates, a Manafort associate, in federal court on Monday.

A Section on 10/31/2017

Print Headline: Russia probe snares former Trump aides

Sponsor Content

Comments

You must be signed in to post comments
  • RBear
    October 31, 2017 at 6:43 a.m.

    The first indictments came down yesterday as well as a revelation of a guilty plea regarding lying about contact with Russian state actors. These are just the start in the investigation, but do show the beginning signs of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and state actors. Mueller is pulling together a web of deceit by the Trump campaign and administration that will only get deeper.
    ...
    For those demanding collusion charges at this point, these things take time and Mueller is being patient about his actions. As expected, the Trump administration and conservative news have gone on the offense against Mueller, the investigation, and a desire to divert attention. For all the critique of MSM, this level of spin never came from those outlets. I know right wingers may want to think so, but their views are VERY filtered based on prior comments in this forum.
    ...
    It will be interesting to see what happens from this point forward.

  • RBear
    October 31, 2017 at 7:10 a.m.

    Here is a bigger fear of mine in the Russian collusion investigation. Russia has shown it will unconventional methods and leverage a variety of online methods to undermine our nation's stability. If Russia thinks the investigation is getting too close, don't be surprised if more Wikileaks come out, meant to either amp up the diversion messaging by Trump or punish Republicans in Congress before the 2018 election.
    ...
    This is not the stuff of a Tom Clancy novel. This is real actions that have been taken in the past and are expected to intensify in coming months and years. Today, Congress will address the issue with the largest sources of information in America, Google, Facebook, and Trump's favorite, Twitter. We'll see where that testimony leads today.

  • 23cal
    October 31, 2017 at 7:56 a.m.

    Who remembers the Newt Gingrich quote, "Nobody should underestimate how much Paul Manafort did to really help get this campaign to where it is now."
    "I have one of the best memories in history." Donald Trump
    "Manafort? Never heard of him."-----Trump, in some variation , from this point forward. *

    *
    "Sanders said Trump had little reaction to the indictments." I read that he was seething. Apparently, he had enough reaction to jump on Twitter and to try to distract the attention of the loyal and the gullible to Hillary.
    *
    When asked about a photo showing Papadopoulos as a member of the foreign policy team, Sanders replied, "The president has thousands of photographs with millions of people." Whoa. Full stop. Let's don't pretend that is the same as his foreign policy team. Come on, Sarah, the president doesn't have thousands of photographs with millions of people ON HIS FOREIGN POLICY TEAM. What a ludicrous comparison and statement.
    *
    The right wingers would be going nuts (the ones not already there) if Hillary's campaign manager got charged with conspiracy against the United States, like Trump's has. They would be like the peasants in a Frankenstein movie, in the streets with torches and pitchforks screaming, "Kill the Monster!" and "Lock her up!"
    *
    What's clear is that Putin intervened in the election for Trump and that Trump's team was at best only TRYING to collude with Russia. How funny that the uber nationalists whose heads explode over a football player kneeling are determined to overlook having our Russian adversary's pet boy for whom they interfered in our election as our president.
    *
    I guess Manafort, Gates, and Papdopolous are examples of "I'm going to hire the very best people!" D. Trump.

  • hah406
    October 31, 2017 at 10:35 a.m.

    Sarah Sanders is nothing but a press whore who is paid to spin on her heals as hard as she possibly can to present the alternative facts. Her daddy should be ashamed that he raised such a liar. At any rate, this is just the start. Trump will go down, it just takes time, just like it did with Nixon.

  • wildblueyonder
    October 31, 2017 at 12:54 p.m.

    rbear sounds like Sherlock Holmes, always offering possibilities on, what ifs. If pigs had wings they could fly.

  • RBear
    October 31, 2017 at 1:44 p.m.

    Ah, the resident troll has woken up.

  • wildblueyonder
    October 31, 2017 at 2:55 p.m.

    You dope, you outpost me 3 to 1. What do you mean "resident" troll? You're a sorry know-it-all, at least in your eyes.

  • RBear
    October 31, 2017 at 3:30 p.m.

    gohogs, trust me. You beat me by a far greater number. I post on many subjects, but don't troll a particular article forum like you do. I can walk away and by the time I get back, you've posted 8 or 9 comments in that span.

  • wildblueyonder
    October 31, 2017 at 3:34 p.m.

    My posts refer to different people not just you. There's so many leftists on these sites it's hard to not respond to them, especially when personally attacked as your kind thrives on. As far as trusting you, no further than I could throw you.

  • ARMNAR
    October 31, 2017 at 3:38 p.m.

    RBear is correct, gohogs. The fact that you can't or are unwilling to see the truth doesn't change it one whit.

    You might try to find professional help to assist you in figuring out why you harbor such hatred in your heart for people you don't know.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT