Two ex-Trump aides charged in Russia
probe, third pleads guilty
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[October 31, 2017]
By Sarah N. Lynch and Karen Freifeld
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal
investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election
charged President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort
and another aide, Rick Gates, with money laundering on Monday.
A third former Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty in
early October to lying to the FBI, it was announced on Monday.
It was a sharp escalation of U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel
Robert Mueller's five-month-old investigation into alleged Russian
efforts to tilt the election in Trump's favor and into potential
collusion by Trump aides.
Manafort, 68, a longtime Republican operative, and Gates were arraigned
at a federal courthouse in Washington.
Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges in a 12-count indictment,
ranging from money laundering to acting as unregistered agents of
Ukraine's former pro-Russian government.
The judge ordered house arrest for both men, and set a $10 million
unsecured bond for Manafort and a $5 million unsecured bond for Gates.
With unsecured bonds, they are released without having to pay but will
owe money if they fail to appear in court. There will be another hearing
The developments in the Mueller probe weighed on the U.S. dollar, which
slipped 0.5 percent against a basket of currencies.
Mueller's investigation and others by congressional committees into
alleged Russian efforts to influence the election have cast a shadow
over Trump's first nine months in office.
U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia interfered in the election by
hacking and releasing embarrassing emails and disseminating propaganda
via social media to discredit Democratic presidential candidate Hillary
Clinton. Russia denies the allegations and Trump denies any collusion.
Neither Trump nor his campaign was mentioned in the indictment against
Manafort and Gates. The charges, some going back more than a decade,
center on Manafort's work for Ukraine.
The indictment includes accusations of conspiracy against the United
States, failure to report foreign bank accounts to the U.S. government
and conspiracy to launder money, a count that carries a 20-year maximum
A White House spokeswoman said the indictment had nothing to do with
Trump or his campaign and showed no evidence of collusion between the
campaign and Russia.
"We've been saying from Day One there's no evidence of Trump-Russia
collusion, and nothing in the indictment today changes that at all,"
spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told a news briefing.
Manafort's attorney, Kevin Downing said in a statement that there was no
evidence the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government.
Downing said Manafort's work for the Ukrainians ended in 2014, two years
before he joined the Trump campaign.
Downing accused Mueller of using a "novel" legal theory to prosecute
Manafort under a law requiring lobbyists to register with the Department
of Justice when they are doing work for a foreign government.
In a development directly related to Trump's 2016 election campaign, it
emerged on Monday that Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser, pleaded
guilty earlier this month to making false statements to Federal Bureau
of Investigation agents.
Mueller's office said Papadopoulos lied to FBI agents about the timing
of contact between him and a professor in London who claimed to have
information that would hurt Clinton.
Papadopoulos, a little-known former foreign policy adviser in the
campaign, made a plea bargain that stated he had since "met with the
Government on numerous occasions to provide information and answer
questions," according to a court document.
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A combination photo of former Trump 2016 campaign chairman Paul
Manafort (L) and Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign official are
shown in Washington, U.S., October 30, 2017. REUTERS/James Lawler
Sanders, the White House spokeswoman, said Papadopoulos' role in the
campaign was "extremely limited" and that he was a volunteer.
"He asked to do things (and) he was basically pushed back or not
responded to in any way," she said.
In a May 4 email quoted in the Papadopoulos indictment, a Trump
campaign employee forwarded a message from Papadopoulos proposing a
meeting between Trump and the Russian government to another campaign
The employee included a note, according to the indictment, that
read: "Let's discuss. We need someone to communicate that DT is not
doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so
as not to send any signal."
A source in Washington, who did not want to be identified and who
has seen the email, said the sender was Manafort and the recipient
Manafort ran the Trump campaign from June to August of 2016 before
resigning amid reports he might have received millions of dollars in
illegal payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.
Trump reiterated his frustration on Monday 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.
Mueller has been investigating Manafortís financial and real estate
dealings and his prior work for a political group, the Party of
Regions, which backed former pro-Kremlin Ukrainian President Viktor
Both Manafort and Gates generated tens of millions of dollars of
income from Ukraine work and laundered money through scores of U.S.
and foreign entities to hide payments from American authorities, the
They concealed from the United States their work and revenue as
agents of Ukrainian political parties and used their wealth to lead
a "lavish lifestyle" without paying taxes on the income, it said.
The indictment said Manafort owned properties in Manhattan,
Brooklyn, the Hamptons, Arlington, Virginia, and elsewhere.
Prosecutors said Manafort spent almost $1 million on eight rugs in
two years and more than $1.3 million on clothes from shops in
Beverly Hills, California, and New York City. They also said he had
been making payments on four Range Rovers and a Mercedes-Benz.
Gates was a longtime business partner of Manafort and has ties to
Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs. He also served as deputy to
Manafort during his brief tenure as Trump's campaign chairman.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Karen Freifeld; Additional
reporting by Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey, Steve Holland and Mark
Hosenball in Washington and Jan Wolfe, Megan Davies and Emily
Flitter in New York.; Writing by Alistair Bell and Caren Bohan;
Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney)
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