Paul Manafort charged: Trump's former campaign manager surrenders to FBI

Charges against Mr Manafort and aide Rick Gates mark major escalation in Robert Mueller's special counsel probe

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Monday 30 October 2017 13:35
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Trump-Russia investigation: who has been charged in the Mueller probe

President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort has reportedly arrived at the FBI's offices in Washington to face charges as part of an investigation into the Trump campaign's links to Russia.

Mr Manafort walked into the FBI Headquarters in Washington DC at approximately 8:15 am local time with his lawyer, but had no comment for reporters.

The charges being brought against Mr Manafort by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, who has been investigating alleged collusion between campaign team members and Russian officials during the 2016 US election, have just been made public.

They include 12 counts which include conspiracy against the US, conspiracy to launder money, being an unregistered agent of a foreign principal - in this case Ukraine, and seven counts of failure to report foreign bank accounts and transactions.

Charges against Rick Gates, a former longtime business partner of Mr Manafort's, have also been included in the same indictment. Both have also been charged with submitting false Foreign Agent Registration Act forms as well.

The indictment alleges both men "generated tens of millions of dollars of income as a result of their Ukraine work" from 2006 to 2016 and that in order to hide the profits from US authorities, they laundered the money.

They are also being charged for not reporting their work in "direct[ing] a campaign to lobby US officials on behalf of the Government of Ukraine, the President of Ukraine, and Ukrainian political parties."

While Mr Manafort exited the campaign in August 2016 and seemingly any public affiliation with Mr Trump's team going forward from campaign to White House, Mr Gates has been working with White House staff on an intermittent basis.

Mr Manafort has groomed Mr Gates for several years and the pair have been connected through documents of companies Mr Manafort had established in Cyprus, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Seychelles in order to receive payments from his Eastern European business and political clients, according to the New York Times.

This past July, the FBI conducted an early morning raid of Mr Manafort's home in Virginia. At the time, prosecutors warned that he may be charged.

It is unclear at this time how significant the records taken from Mr Manafort's home in the pre-dawn 26 July raid are to the investigation, according to the Washington Post.

The FBI came to his home after Mr Manafort had voluntarily met with the Senate Intelligence Committee behind closed doors the day prior to discuss a meeting he attended in June 2016 with the President's son Donald Trump Jr, Mr Trump's son--in-law Jared Kushner, and Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower.

Mr Manafort has been turning over records, some of which are reportedly notes from the meeting.

Special prosecutor Robert Mueller worked with the FBI on the wide-ranging search warrant obtained prior to the search.

As former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa pointed out on Twitter at the time, to get the search warrant the FBI had to present evidence to a federal judge showing they had probable cause that Mr Manafort committed a crime and that evidence of it could be in his home.

In theory, Mr Manafort may be able to make some sort of bargain - offering information linking Mr Trump to Russian officials and collusion in exchange for avoiding prosecution.

Though both have been charged in the same indictment, this does not preclude either from being able to cut a deal.

Washington insiders have commented that Mr Mueller is approaching the case like he would a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) investigation, focusing on the 'organisation' rather than individuals; the emphasis is on taking out the next layer 'up' in these types of cases.

Given that Mr Manafort and Mr Gates are the first indictments in a wide-ranging investigation, there is likely more space for deal at this 'level'.

He will have his arraignment hearing this morning at the District Court during which he will be informed of the list of charges as well as maximum penalties for each charge.

Normally those charged with white collar crimes are released at the time under their own recognisance, albeit with restrictions on travel.

Mr Manafort nor Mr Gates have responded to the indictment as yet.

More follows…

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