Charges against Manafort, Gates do not mention presidential campaign but could expand probe to presidentPresident Donald Trump's former campaign chairman and his associate have surrendered to the FBI on Monday on conspiracy against the U.S. and money laundering charges.
Also included in the 12-count indictment against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates are not being registered as a foreign agent and failure to report foreign assets.
The charges have been issued as Special Counsel Robert Muller investigates a possible connection between the Trump campaign and Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The indictment does not mention the Trump campaign but Manafort and Gates played key roles in the effort to get Trump elected.
The charges date between 2006 and 2015, long before Manafort worked for the campaign, when he was empoyed for the pro-Russia Party of the Regions in Ukraine.
Mueller said Manafort and Gates used offshore accounts to hide tens of millions of dollars.
“Manafort used his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States without paying taxes on that income,” according to the indictment reads.
The indictment will allow Mueller to expand the Russia investigation and many believe it is an attempt to get Manafort or others to “flip” and provide information to the government in return for no jail time or a lesser sentence.
Manafort was at meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in New York in June 2015, after the campaign reportedly was promised negative information about Hillary Clinton in her battle against Trump during the presidential campaign.
Trump tried to deflect the focus of the attention of the indictment Monday in a tweet following reports of the indictment.
“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?????,” he wrote.
He followed that tweet with another one. “....Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”
Separate from the indictment, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
George Papadopolous lied about "the timing, extent and nature of his relationships and interactions with certain foreign nationals whom he understood to have close connections with senior Russian government officials,” according to a complaint that was unsealed Monday,
Papadopoulos, who entered his plea earlier this month, told authorities an overseas professor told him Russia had “thousands of emails” with “dirt” on Clinton.
He reportedly offered to set up a meeting between Russian and Trump campaign officials during the run-up to the elections and his admission to federal authorities draws a direct link between the campaign and Moscow possibly tampering with the vote.