- President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Manafort’s former business associate Rick Gates were indicted by a grand jury in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US election. The two pleaded not guilty on Monday to 12 counts, including conspiracy against the US and conspiracy to launder money. Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials.
At the end of a wild Monday, three of President Donald Trump’s associates were indicted on criminal charges. Two pleaded not guilty in federal court, and one pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials.
They were the first indictments in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections, and whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.
Here’s a rundown of everything we learned on Monday:
- Mike Nudelman/Business Insider
- Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Manafort’s former business associate, Rick Gates, pleaded not guilty after being indicted by a grand jury.The indictment was unsealed Monday morning, and it contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. Read the full 31-page indictment here »Photos and video showed Manafort leaving his home Monday morning, hiding his face behind the car visor, then surrendering to the FBI. The conspiracy charge doesn’t have any direct connection to Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia before the 2016 US election. It’s a general charge stemming from any joint effort to defraud the US and is tied to the allegations involving Manafort’s and Gates’ money.
- Carlos Barria/Reuters
- Trump weighed in on Twitter, saying the charges were related to alleged crimes from “before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign.” He questioned why his Democratic presidential opponent Hillary Clinton wasn’t the focus of the investigation, adding, “Also, there is NO COLLUSION!” Right-wing media seized on this distinction. Many of the president’s allies defended Trump, distancing him from Manafort and counter-programming with negative stories about Democratic leaders. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders deflected during Monday’s press briefing, arguing that the indictments didn’t reflect poorly on Trump, and claiming instead that people should be focused on the Clinton campaign’s partial funding of a salacious dossier with negative information about Trump. Sanders also declined to unequivocally rule out the possibility of Trump firing Mueller, but said he had no plans to do so. Top Senate Democrats warned Trump that Congress will take “swift” action if he fires Mueller. Tension heightened among senators worried that Trump might retaliate and attempt to oust Mueller.Two bills are sitting in limbo on Capitol Hill that would shield Mueller from termination by allowing a three-judge panel to decide if it was unwarranted. White House staff learned about Manafort’s indictment from news alerts right before their morning meeting with chief of staff John Kelly. White House officials were reportedly relieved that Manafort was the first person indicted in the Russia probe rather than former national security adviser Michael Flynn. They were also worried about who might be next. Inside the White House, Trump reportedly seethed while watching the news unfold Monday morning.
Papadopoulos pleads guilty
George Papadopoulos, 30, a foreign-policy adviser to Trump’s campaign in early 2016, secretly pleaded guilty October 5 to making false statements to the FBI about the nature and extent of his contacts with foreign nationals who he knew had ties to senior Russian government officials. The charge was unsealed on Monday.
Papadopoulos was apparently told that Moscow had dirt on Hillary Clinton in April 2016, completely changing the timeline of Russia’s election interference. In May 2016, Papadopoulos said his contacts in Russia wanted to meet with Trump in an email to someone described as a high-ranking Trump campaign official, who responded, “It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”
One day after FBI investigators interviewed Papadopoulos, he deactivated his Facebook account, which contained evidence of meetings with Russians. Six days later, he got a new cell phone number.
The unsealed court filings showed extensive contact before the election between Papadopoulos and Russia-linked foreign nationals, raising the stakes for the White House – and throwing a huge wrench in Trump’s attempts to distance himself from Manafort.
- Thomson Reuters
- The indictments launched a jam-packed week in politics – social-media companies testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about Russia accounts on Tuesday, the GOP unveils the details of its tax plan on Wednesday, Trump will likely name his pick for the next Fed chair on Thursday, and the president heads to Asia on Friday. Facebook and Twitter will tell Congress this week that Russia’s election meddling was worse than we first thought. The indictments relegated the highly anticipated Republican tax plan rollout this week to a “sideshow.”Tony Podesta, the brother of Clinton’s former campaign chairman John Podesta, resigned from his position as the head of his lobbying firm following his inclusion in Mueller’s Russia investigation. Manafort’s indictment alleges that from 2008 to 2014, he used offshore accounts to wire over $12 million to fund a luxurious lifestyle, paying for items like Range Rovers, men’s clothing, and housekeeping services. Manafort’s indictment also shows he made “thousands of dollars a week” using Airbnb to rent out a $3 million New York City condo he allegedly bought with offshore funds. Here are all the lavish ways the indictment says Manafort spent his hidden millions » Manafort’s wife Kathleen has been a quietly pivotal part of the investigation against him. As the news unfolded, Trump and first lady Melania Trump hosted trick-or-treaters at the White House.