November 23, 2017

Manafort surrenders after indictment on 12 counts

Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, turned himself in to the FBI on Monday after being indicted on 12 counts, including conspiracy against the United States.

Other counts in the indictment include conspiracy to launder money, false statements and seven counts of failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

They appear to be the first charges related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

News cameras caught Manafort walking into the front door of the FBI’s Washington, D.C., field office with his lawyers.

CNN first reported that Manafort would surrender to the authorities. The New York Times reported that Manafort’s business partner, Rick Gates, has also been advised to surrender.

The indictments were reportedly returned by a grand jury on Friday and were unsealed after the defendants were permitted to surrender themselves, according to a statement from the FBI.

Manafort and Gates could make an initial court appearance on Monday to hear the charges against them and to be advised of their rights.

Manafort’s surrender marks a turning point in Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump campaign officials had improper contacts with Russia during the 2016 election.

The investigation has opened Manafort to scrutiny of his past business dealings and foreign lobbying.

Manafort has earned millions of dollars for work he did on behalf of a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.

The special counsel reportedly issued subpoenas over the summer to the lobbying firms involved in that public relations campaign, which Gates also worked on.

Manafort’s business interests span the globe, and media reports indicate that investigators are looking at everything from wire transfers through foreign banks and off-shore accounts to payments in real estate deals in New York City.

In July, FBI agents conducted a raid at Manafort’s home. The agents had a search warrant to seize materials from his house in Alexandria, Va. The raid happened the day after Manafort had a meeting with staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Manafort was also present at a 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and a Russian attorney who has been linked to the Kremlin.

Trump vented over the weekend about the political “witch hunt” surrounding the investigation into Russian election meddling. He will meet with Vice President Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the White House at 12:30 p.m.

On Sunday, Trump said it isn’t a coincidence that news surrounding Mueller’s investigation was surfacing at the same time Republicans are pushing for tax reform.

“All of this ‘Russia’ talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

“Is this coincidental? NOT!”

Last week, Trump said it is “commonly agreed” he didn’t collude with Russia during the presidential race, instead accusing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton of working with the Kremlin.

Trump has repeatedly referred to the Russia probe as a “witch hunt,” and he and his aides have denied collusion.

This report was updated at 9:13 a.m.

 

Source: The Hill

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