Updated 10:02 a.m. | Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, has been indicted on a dozen charges, according to a Justice Department official.
The counts include conspiracy against the United States, money laundering and others related to his private business dealings. Also charged was his longtime business associate Rick Gates.
The move makes Manafort, who has surrendered to federal officials in Washington, and Gates the first individuals to face charges in the Justice Department’s probe led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russia’s 2016 election meddling.
Separately, Mueller charged former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos with making false statements to federal investigators about a 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-linked professor and “dirt” he promised on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Mueller had warned Manafort’s attorneys that an indictment was likely; he had been under investigation for money laundering and tax law violations and federal officials raided his home in July to gather evidence.
“The indictment 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,” the Justice Department official said in an email Monday morning.
The White House declined to officially comment on the news, but Trump tweeted that the charges against Manafort were for acts that came “years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign.”
As he and other Republicans have done before, the president also tried to again change the focus to Clinton and the Democrats in the ongoing federal and congressional probes into Russia’s election meddling.
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?????— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2017
....Also, there is NO COLLUSION!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2017
The indictment documents unsealed and released by the DOJ on Monday appear to show the charges stem from Manafort and Gates’ private dealings as consultants overseas — not from their work for the Trump campaign.
The White House has tried to put distance between Manafort and Trump, with top aides arguing Manafort was campaign chairman for only a short time. But Mueller’s move puts in federal custody a former top aide who was close to Trump and heavily involved in decisions about campaign strategy and tactics.
Ty Cobb, a lawyer brought in by the White House to manage the response to the Russia investigations, had not responded to an inquiry seeking comment at press time. The Justice Department had also has not responded to an inquiry seeking to confirm the charges.
Minutes before news of the Manafort indictment broke, the president tweeted, citing unnamed reports, that the “Obama Campaign paid $972,000 to Fusion GPS. The firm also got $12,400,000 (really?) from DNC. Nobody knows who OK’d!”
Report out that Obama Campaign paid $972,000 to Fusion GPS. The firm also got $12,400,000 (really?) from DNC. Nobody knows who OK'd!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2017
Trump was alluding to a report by the conservative news site The Federalist that President Barack Obama’s official campaign organization paid nearly $1 million to a law firm that then passed funds to Fusion GPS, a firm that eventually hired Christopher Steele, a former British MI6 officer, to build a dossier of opposition research on Trump. That dossier contains allegedly damning information about the president’s pre-political life business dealings and some lewd activities in Russia.
Much of the dossier’s contents have not been publicly corroborated. But House Intelligence ranking Democrat Adam B. Schiff of California said this weekend that investigators have corroborated much of its contents.
The Monday morning tweet followed a Sunday morning barrage on the same topic by Trump. In one, he wrote: “There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!”
...are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 29, 2017
He also appeared to accuse Mueller of taking the Russia probe into the indictment phase to derail his and congressional Republicans’ work on a tax overhaul bill.
“All of this ‘Russia” talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!” Trump wrote.
All of this "Russia" talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 29, 2017