If you haven’t heard, Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed an indictment against Paul Manafort and his buddy, Richard Gates. Manafort is being indicted for the time before and during when he was then-candidate Trump’s campaign chairman last summer.
If that wasn’t enough, George Papadopoulos, who use to be a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty. He was arrested in July, but the case had been under seal until today.
Let’s go over all the counts of indictment against Manafort and Gates:
Count 1: Conspiracy (2006 – 2017)
Count 2: Money Laundering (2008 – 2016)
Counts 3 – 6: Foreign Asset Disclosure (2011 – 2014 Manafort)
Counts 7 -9: Foreign Asset Disclosure (2011 – 2014 Gates)
Count 10: Foreign Agent (2008 – 2014)
Counts 11 – 12: False Statements
Many of these counts are for actions taken by Manafort and Gates during the investigation, such as providing misleading/ false statements, failure to file foreign disclosures to the IRS, and broad obstruction of justice. Clearly there was a lot to hide and a willingness to do so, even in the face of these charges.
You will notice that in the Manafort/Gates charges, there are no counts that go over potential collusion with Russia. Many political scientists think that these charges against Manafort/Gates are merely an opening salvo to convince them to turn witness against someone higher up in the investigation. This is a common tactic done at every level of an investigation – using plea deals to exchange “undercharging” for more information. Indeed, this is likely what happened with Papadopoulos and his guilty plea. In an investigation of this size and scope, the early charges are mostly intended to compel defendants to cooperate with investigators, so don’t take anything from the fact that the charges do not immediately implicate Trump or his campaign with colluding with Russia – maybe someone should tell President Trump? (see the featured image of this post)
I personally believe there is a lot more to this investigation that we will be seeing over the next year. Hopefully Mueller gets all the time and resources he needs to make sure that the even the rich and powerful in America are still governed by her laws. If nothing else, the greatest benefit of this investigation might be to serve as a warning for future financial criminals to not get involved in presidential elections – which is definitely a win for the concept of free, fair, and open elections.