Two former Trump officials turn themselves in

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The first charges from Special Counsel Robert Mueller were filed today as a part of the ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the election.  The two men indicted: former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort and Deputy Campaign Manager Rick Gates.

Paul Manafort, the former Trump Campaign Chairman, surrendered himself at the FBI’s Washington Field Office this morning following an indictment against him and his business associate and former Trump Deputy Campaign Manager, Rick Gates.  

The 31-page indictment represents the first charges filed against anyone by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  The 12 counts include conspiracy against the United States, false statements and conspiracy to launder money.  The indictment alleges that Manafort and Gates moved money through hidden bank accounts.  In total, more than $75 million allegedly flowed through the offshore accounts. 

It’s unclear whether today’s charges have anything to do with the investigation into possible collusion with the Russians and the Trump Campaign.  This indictment does not mention President Trump, his campaign or Russian meddling.  Manafort has reportedly denied the collusion, including when he served as the Trump Campaign Chairman.  In July, after being asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos if there were any ties between Trump, him, or the campaign and Putin and his regime, his response was laughter, followed by, “no, there are not.  It’s absurd and you know there’s no basis to it”.  

Manafort was fired from his post as Head of the Campaign following revelations about financial ties to the Russian-backed government in Ukraine.  Gates remained close with the campaign after leaving as Chairman and also served as Deputy of the Presidential Inauguration Committee.

The president responding on Twitter writing, “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???”

He went on to Tweet, “No conspiracy,” but there is another indictment that has just been unsealed.  George Popadopolous, an early Foreign Policy Advisor to the Trump campaign has pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his interactions with Russian agents.  He’s now cooperating with authorities. 

–Lana Zak

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