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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 20, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

National Recap: Manafort indicted in investigation

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman during the 2016 presidential election, was indicted on 12 charges of hiding payments to foreign accounts, including a count of “conspiracy against the United States.

Manafort’s business partner, Rick Gates, has also been charged. According to the indictment, “Manafort used his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States without paying taxes on that income,” and Gates transferred more than $3 million from offshore accounts.

The charges brought against Manafort and Gates make no mention of the Trump campaign, but they are part of a larger investigation into the involvement of Russia in the 2016 presidential election. The special investigation, which started in May 2017, is led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, former director of the FBI.

Trump responded to the allegations on Twitter, denying any connections between his campaign and Manafort’s links to Russia. On Oct. 30, after Manafort was indicted, Trump tweeted, “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?????” In a follow-up tweet, Trump tweeted, “….Also, there is NO COLLUSION!

Manafort and Gates are not the only members of the Trump campaign to be charged as part of the investigation. George Papadopoulos, former foreign policy adviser for Trump’s campaign, recently pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his connections to Russia.

Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary, said that Papadopoulos had limited involvement in the campaign. “It was a volunteer position. And again, no activity was ever done in an official capacity on behalf of the campaign in that regard,” Sanders said at a White House briefing. Despite this, court papers revealed that an unnamed campaign adviser encouraged Papadopoulos to travel to Russia for a meeting with Russian officials.

Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., is also implicated in evidence brought forth by the special investigation. According to NPR, Trump Jr. was in contact with Russian nationals via email to uncover “dirt” on Trump’s then-opponent in the presidential election, Hillary Clinton. Manafort, Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, attended a meeting with a Russian national in June 2016 in Trump Towers.

While Papadopoulos has pled guilty, Manafort and Gates have pleaded not guilty to all charges brought against them. A judge has set bond for $10 million for Manafort and $5 million for Gates, and both have opted for house arrest.

Meaghan McElroy can be reached at mmcelroy@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @meaghan_mcelroy