Paul Manafort has been named as the first person indicted on federal charges as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Manafort was told to turn himself in Monday morning, the New York Times reports. The charges against Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump, were not immediately released. His protege and junior partner, Rick Gates, was also indicted and has turned himself in, the newspaper reports.
Manafort, 68, of Alexandria, Virginia, was indicted on 12 counts, including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, acting as an 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, the special counsel’s office said in a press release. Gates, 45, of Richmond, Virginia, faces the same charges. They appeared in court Monday afternoon before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson and both pleaded not guilty. Gates’ bail was set at $5 million, while Manafort’s was set at $10 million.
“The case was unsealed on Oct. 30, 2017, after the defendants were permitted to surrender themselves to the custody of the FBI,” peter Carr, a spokesperson for Mueller’s office, said in the press release.
Manafort and his attorneys have not commented. The White House has also not commented. He is expected to be taken to federal district court in Washington later Monday for his first appearance.
Also on Monday, the special counsel’s office announced that George Papadopoulos, who served as a foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty on October 5 to making a false statement during an interview with the FBI.
This is a breaking story and will be updated as more information is made available. Here is what we know about the indictment and investigation so far:
1. Manafort Is Accused of Acting as Unregistered Agents of Foreign Governments & Laundering Millions
Paul Manafort turned himself in Monday morning at an FBI field office in Washington D.C. after he was told to do so, CNN reports.
The indictment alleges that the Manafort and Rick Gates “acted as unregistered agents of the government of Ukraine, the Party of Regions (a Ukrainian political party whose leader was Victor Yanukovych was president from 2010 to 2014), Yanukovych and the Opposition Bloc (a successor to the Party of Regions that formed in 2014 when Yanukovych fled to Russia.” According to the indictment, “Manafort and Gates generated tens of millions of dollars in income as a result of their Ukraine work. In order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities, from approximately 2006 through at least 2016, Manafort and Gates laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign companies, partnerships and bank accounts.
You can read the 31-page indictment below:
The existence of the indictment was first reported on Friday by CNN. According to the news network, a federal grand jury in Washington handed down the charges and the case was sealed by a judge. CNN reported Friday that the target or targets of the indictment could be taken into custody as soon as Monday. Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel, declined to comment.
“Sealing is fairly common at the stage when you have an indictment that is issued or approved, as it may have been today,” former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade told NBC News. “And the reason is that law enforcement kind of wants its ducks in a row before they go out and arrest the defendant or even notify him — it may be that they don’t arrest whoever this defendant is because they’ve worked out a relationship with his or her defense attorney to bring them in to appear on the case.”
According to CNN, top attorneys from Mueller’s team, including his right-hand man, Andrew Weissmann, were seen at the D.C. court where the grand jury has been seated. A “flurry of activity” was seen inside the courtroom, according to CNN.
The indictment is not the end of the investigation. Legal experts have said these charges could be used to push for cooperation in other areas that are being looked at by Mueller’s team.
“There is a lot of pressure on people who are under investigation to cooperate with Mueller after this indictment,” Michael Zeldin, a lawyer who served as special assistant to Mueller when he was in charge of the FBI, told CNN.
2. His Financial Dealings Have Been Under Scrutiny for Several Years & a Warrant Was Served at His Home This Summer
Manafort’s financial dealings, both with foreign leaders, including in Ukraine, and with Russian businessmen, among others, have long been a target of federal scrutiny. The indictment against Manafort was not unexpected. In September, it was reported by the New York Times that Manafort had been told he would likely face criminal charges as a result of the Mueller probe.
The FBI served an early morning search warrant at Manafort’s home, using a no-knock raid to enter the apartment, the Times reported. Agents took binders stuffed with documents and copied Manafort’s computer files, according to the Times.
“FBI agents executed a search warrant at one of Mr. Manafort’s residences. Mr. Manafort has consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well,” Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, told CNN in August.
3. Manafort Was the Campaign Chairman for Trump From April to August 2016
Paul Manafort worked as the Trump campaign chairman from April 2016 to August 2016, when he resigned after questions about his lobbying history overseas, especially in Ukraine, were raised, according to CNN. His resignation also came amid a power shift in the campaign, with Steve Bannon taking over as campaign CEO and adviser Kellyanne Conway being put into the campaign manager role. CNN reported at the time that the issue was more about his relationship with Trump than the Ukraine lobbying concerns, with a source telling the network, “Trump and he don’t have chemistry.”
In a statement at the time, Trump said, “This morning Paul Manafort offered, and I accepted, his resignation from the campaign. “I am very appreciative for his great work in helping to get us where we are today, and in particular his work guiding us through the delegate and convention process. Paul is a true professional and I wish him the greatest success.”
Manafort was initially brought onto the Trump campaign when it appeared that the Republican race was headed towards a contested convention; he was hired due to his years of personal experience at convention fights. According to The New York Times, Manafort worked at the 1976 republican convention, helping Gerald Ford squash the insurgent candidacy of Ronald Reagan in the most recent convention during which no candidate had a majority of delegates.
He would later be hired by Ronald Reagan as the southern coordinator of the 1980 campaign, and then as the deputy political director at the Republican National Committee. Manafort went on to advise the presidential campaigns of George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush and John McCain.
Manafort has made a career out of advising controversial foreign dictators, being hired to help reshape their image in America. His clients have been referred to as the “torturer’s lobby,” according to The Daily Beast.
His lobbying firm in 1985 was paid $1 million to advise Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, according to The Washington Post. Months later, the Marcos regime was overthrown and he fled to Hawaii.
Throughout the late 1980s, Manafort’s firm was hired to represent Jonas Savimbi, leader of a guerrilla army in Angola who hoped to receive aid from the United States. Thanks to Manafort’s work, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole convinced the State Department to send arms to Savimbi and his group. According to Slate, Manafort also helped reframe Savimbi as a “freedom fighter,” but a Human Rights Report detailed the army’s frequent use of “indiscriminate killings, mutilation of limbs or ears, and beatings.” Sen. Bill Bradley would later observe that this lobbying work only helped to lengthen the civil war.
In 2010, Manafort served as adviser to Viktor Yanukovych, Ukrainian presidential candidate with ties to Vladimir Putin. Yanukovych ultimately won his election in 2010 but was removed from office in 2014 after years of suppressing his opposition and the press. Many in Ukraine are not happy about Manafort’s involvement in the Trump campaign, with a spokesman for the Ukraine Freedom Support Group saying that Manafort should not be allowed within 100 feet of government buildings, according to The Daily Beast.
In addition to the controversy he has generated lobbying for dictators, criticism of Manafort arose when his involvement in the infamous Karachi Affair was revealed.
In 1994, France made a deal with Pakistan to sell three submarines for a sum of about $1 billion. It was alleged that then Prime Minister Edouard Balladur actually used commissions from this sale to finance his 1995 presidential campaign. Manafort was at the time working to write Balladur’s campaign strategy, and he later admitted to being paid $200,000 from this deal under the table.
According to French 24, Manafort said in 2013 that he was paid by Abdul Rahman el-Assir, one of two middlemen in this controversial arms sale.
In the late 1980s, Manafort played a key role in a Reagan Administration scandal involving the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
According to NJ.com, Manafort allegedly used his connections at the White House to secure $42 million in rent subsidies and tax credits for a housing project in Seabrook. Local officials did not know about this nor did they want the money, but Manafort was a part-owner of the apartment complex, and his firm received $326,000 for the lobbying work. Supposedly, he obtained the funding in part due to his relationship with Deborah Gore Dean, assistant to HUD Secretary Samuel R. Pierce, Jr.
He said in a subcommittee hearing in 1989 that “you could characterize this as influence peddling.” The subcommittee chairman chastised Manafort for “the politically well-connected cashing in on a program set up to benefit low-income families.” A final report referred to the program as a cash cow milked by the politically well-connected.
Though Paul Manafort joined the Trump campaign in 2016, this was not his introduction to the New York businessman. Rather, the relationship between Manafort and Trump goes back decades.
According to Slate, in the early 1990s, Trump hired the services of Paul Manafort’s and Roger Stone’s lobbying firm, Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly. Trump needed their assistance when he feared the rise of Indian gaming would threaten his Atlantic City casino business.
With the help of Roger Stone, Trump spent thousands of dollars on ads intended to discredit his Indian rivals, including sinister photos of drug paraphernalia alleging the St. Regis Mohawk Indians had connections to criminal activity. New York Gov. George Pataki later fined Donald Trump and Roger Stone $250,000 for this, and although Stone was the one handling the account, Paul Manafort evidently was involved in some capacity, frequently pitching in on the campaign and establishing a relationship with Trump that would pay off decades later. In 2006, Manafort moved into an apartment in Trump Tower, according to The Washington Post.
4. Gates Worked With Manafort for Several Years & Remained a Trump Adviser After His Boss Left the Campaign
Gates, 45, the second man arrested Monday, is a longtime junior partner and protege of Manafort, the New York Times reports. According to the Times, Gates’ name appears on documents linked to companies that Manafort’s firm set up in Cyprus to receive payments from politicians and businessmen in Eastern Europe.
A pro-Russian lobbyist, Gates was brought into the Trump campaign along with Manafort, and remained in Trump’s orbit after Manafort left, The Daily Beast reports. He was part of the Trump transition team and then worked for pro-Trump American First Policies after that, before leaving that nonprofit in March. He was spotted in the White House in June 2017.
“Rick [just] wandered around,” a Republican source familiar with the most recent White House visit told The Daily Beast. “My understanding is that [President Trump] had no idea he was in the building otherwise he wouldn’t be too happy.”
You can read more about Gates and the indictment against him below:
5. Mueller Was Appointed as Special Counsel in May After Trump Fired FBI Director James Comey
Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel in the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election in May 2017 by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein is overseeing the Justice Department’s involvement in the probe after Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was a Trump campaign surrogate, recused himself.
The appoint of Mueller came after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on May 9. Mueller took the special counsel job on May 17 and was given broad discretion as to what he was investigating.
Rosenstein said in a letter that Mueller will be investigating “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.”
Mueller, a former U.S. attorney, served as FBI director from 2001 to 2012. His investigation has focused on possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, along with potential obstruction of justice by Trump, who may have tried to impede the investigation before Mueller was appointed special counsel, according to CNN. His investigation has also focused on financial ties between members of the Trump campaign and Russia, along with foreign lobbying conducted by Trump associates, including Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn.
Mueller’s investigation is running alongside investigations being conducted by three Congressional panels.
Mueller is joined by a team of powerful attorneys who he has brought together in Washington, D.C. The team, made up of prosecutors and investigators, is essentially working as a U.S. Attorney’s office.
Andrew Weissmann, the chief of the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, is said to have a major role in the team, and was seen in D.C. on Friday when the grand jury returned its first indictment.
He has also brought on attorneys from the DOJ’s money laundering, national security, terrorism and civil divisions, along with the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office and two top attorneys from the Solicitor General’s office.
Mueller additionally recruited several highly regarded former DOJ attorneys, many of whom he worked with in the public and private sector, including Aaron Zebley, his former chief of staff at the FBI and James Quarles III, who was the special assistant prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force. Greg Andres, a longtime white collar lawyer and former Justice Department prosecutor, joined the team in July. His speciality is foreign bribery.
Mueller first empaneled a grand jury in Washington D.C. over the summer. Its existence was first reported by the Wall Street Journal in early August. Federal investigators had previously been using a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia to obtain subpoenas and take other investigative steps, according to the Washington Post.
“This is news to me, but it’s welcome news to the extent it suggests that it may accelerate the resolution of Mr. Mueller’s work. The White House has every interest in bringing this to a prompt and fair conclusion. As we’ve said in the past, we’re committed to cooperating fully with Mr. Mueller,” White House special counsel Ty Cobb told the Post after the WSJ’s report.
President Donald Trump and his allies have recently stepped up their efforts in discrediting Mueller and trying to shift attention to the Democrats. Trump has claimed there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia, calling the probe a “witch hunt.”
On Sunday, two days after CNN’s report about the indictment, Trump unleashed a series of early morning tweets. “Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?). … the Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more. Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia ‘collusion,’ which doesn’t exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R’s are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!”
He added, “All of this “Russia” talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!”
Cobb said in a statement, Trump’s tweets are “unrelated to activities of Special Counsel with whom he continues to cooperate.”