Trump’s former campaign manager surrenders to FBI on charges of conspiracy
Paul Manafort, a former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, surrendered to the FBI on Monday and another ex-aide pleaded guilty to lying to agents in the most serious steps yet of a federal probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Manafort, 68, a longtime Republican operative, arrived at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Washington field office to hand himself in after being indicted by a federal grand jury on charges including money laundering, which carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.
Neither Trump nor his campaign were mentioned in the indictment and many of the charges, some of which go back more than a decade, have to do with Manafort’s work for Ukraine’s pro-Russian government and political figures there.
But in a separate development directly related to Trump’s 2016 election campaign, it emerged on Monday that a former campaign aide George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty earlier this month to making false statements to FBI agents.
The office of Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller said Papadopoulos had told FBI agents he had been in contact with a professor in London who claimed to have information that would hurt Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.”
Papadopolous initially said such contacts occurred before he joined Trump’s campaign but in fact he did not meet the professor until after he joined the campaign, the counsel’s office said.
Investigations by Mueller and several congressional panels into alleged Russian efforts to tilt the election in Trump’s favor and potential collusion by Trump aides have cast a shadow over the Republican president’s first nine months in office, and have widened the rift between Republicans and Democrats.
Manafort ran the Trump campaign from June to August of 2016 before resigning amid reports he might have received millions in illegal payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.
Manafort associate Rick Gates was also named in the 12-count indictment, the first since Mueller was appointed special counsel in May.
Lawyers for Gates and Manafort did not immediately return calls for comment.
An initial court appearance and arraignment for the two men was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. (1730 GMT) on Monday in Washington.
Trump, who has denied any allegations of collusion with the Russians, reiterated that denial on Monday, as well as his public frustration with the Mueller probe, which he has called “a witch hunt.”
“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?????,” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to Clinton.