Yesterday was filled with legal bombshells for President Donald Trump. As expected, after months of investigation into the White House’s ties to Moscow, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team announced three arrests and indictments. Together, these cases have fundamentally shifted the game in our nation’s capital—very much to the president’s detriment.
The arrest of Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager in the summer of 2016 who secured him the Republican Party’s nomination, was expected by many. For months, rumors had swirled around Manafort, given his longstanding and unsavory ties to Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs, compounded by his barely concealed links to Kremlin intelligence, as I reported three months before the November 2016 election.
Manafort has surrendered to the FBI and faces a dozen federal charges relating to financial crimes including money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent, plus neglecting to report foreign cash to the IRS. These charges are serious and will be difficult for Manafort to beat, leading to speculation that what Mueller really wants is Manafort’s cooperation against Team Trump—which may be the 68-year-old’s only alternative to dying in prison.
Rick Gates, a Manafort protégé and 2016 Trump campaign associate, has also surrendered to the Feds and is facing a raft of charges relating to money laundering. Gates also played a key role in President Trump’s inauguration and pushed the White House’s agenda as a lobbyist until April of this year, when questions about Gates’ ties to the Kremlin made his position untenable.
On cue, the White House protested that they barely know Manafort and Gates—a transparent falsehood—while stating that their alleged crimes have nothing directly to do with the president. The latter may be technically true, but difficult questions lurk regarding why Donald Trump wanted someone as unsavory and Moscow-connected as Paul Manafort to head his campaign, particularly since the longtime swamp denizen Manafort’s links to Eastern oligarchs were an open secret in Washington.
Read the rest at The Observer …