Two ex-Trump aides head to U.S. court on
charges in Russia probe
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[November 02, 2017]
By Nathan Layne
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Paul Manafort, who
served briefly as Donald Trump's election campaign manager, and business
associate Rick Gates are expected to make their first appearances on
Thursday before the U.S. judge overseeing a criminal case brought by a
special counsel investigating campaign ties to Russia.
Manafort, 68, and Gates, 45, who also worked on the Republican's
campaign, pleaded not guilty before a magistrate judge on Monday to a
12-count indictment, ranging from conspiracy to launder money,
conspiracy against the United States and failing to register as foreign
agents of Ukraine's former pro-Russian government.
Also on Thursday, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter
Page is scheduled to testify to the U.S. House of Representatives
Intelligence Committee behind closed doors about his dealings with
Russians. Page has repeatedly denied serving as an intermediary between
Trump's campaign and Russia, which had been under U.S. economic
sanctions for several years at the time of last year's election
Monday's charges were an opening salvo by Special Counsel Robert
Mueller, whose investigators are probing allegations by U.S.
intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the election to
undermine Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to help Trump. The
inquiry also will determine whether or not there was any coordination
between Russians and associates of the Trump campaign.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied meddling and Trump has denied
potential collusion between his associates and Russia, calling the
investigations a witch hunt.
George Papadopoulos, another former member of the Trump campaign's small
foreign policy team, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and will not
face trial. A lawyer for Papadopoulos declined comment.
Thursday's hearing will be the first in the courtroom of U.S. District
Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who was appointed by former president
Barack Obama and has handled a series of high-profile cases over the
past few years.
The 2 p.m. (1800 GMT) hearing is expected to focus on setting bail
conditions. Manafort and Gates are under house arrest, released on
unsecured bonds of $10 million and $5 million, respectively.
[to top of second column]
President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort
departs U.S. District Court after a hearing in the first charges
stemming from a special counsel investigation of possible Russian
meddling in the 2016 presidential election in Washington, U.S.,
October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo
Manafort, a longtime lobbyist, political consultant and lawyer, and
Gates should be given stiff bail terms because of their "history of
deceptive and misleading conduct", their "significant financial
resources" and the "potentially significant sentences" they face,
prosecutors said in a filing Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the
District of Columbia.
A conviction on conspiracy to launder money alone could carry a
sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Prosecutors also said there was a risk of flight. Manafort holds
three U.S. passports and frequently travels abroad. Asked about the
information in the filing, Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said on
Wednesday his client "looks forward to having these allegations
tried before a judge and jury."
Kevin Downing, Manafort's lawyer, did not respond to a request for
comment ahead of the hearing. It is not clear whether Gates, who was
represented by a court-appointed lawyer on Monday, has retained
The charges did not state any direct connections to the Trump
campaign or allegations of collusion. Downing said Manafort's work
for the Ukrainians ended in 2014, two years before he joined the
Trump campaign in March 2016. Manafort served as campaign manager
from June to August.
In Tuesday's court filing, prosecutors said Manafort and Gates had
connections to Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs.
Downing said earlier this week that there was no evidence the Trump
campaign colluded with the Russian government.
(Reporting by Nathan Layne; additional reporting by Sarah N. Lynch;
Editing by John Walcott and Grant McCool)
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