Trump’s troubles just beginning
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 Campaign boss charged as aide admits to lying, flips into witness World
Two top officials from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign were charged Monday with serious crimes: allegedly laundering more than $20 million from a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party they illegally failed to reveal they were representing.
And that wasn’t the worst news of Trump’s worst day in office.
The sensational indictments of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and deputy Rick Gates would have represented a major problem for the “America First” White House no matter what special counsel Robert Mueller did next.
But what Mueller did was throw a haymaker that destroyed Trump’s feeble early attempt at a self-defence, showed that his investigation has penetrated deep into the campaign’s dealings with Russia, and strongly suggested far more damage to come — possibly on the very allegation Trump has most strenuously insisted is phoney.
“The investigation’s going right for the jugular: collusion,” said Nick Akerman, a partner at law firm Dorsey and Whitney and former assistant prosecutor on the Watergate scandal. “They’re going right to the heart of the thing, not wasting any time. And they’re going for the people that know the most, and they’re going right to the top.”
Just two hours after Manafort and Gates turned themselves in at an FBI office in Washington — both later pleaded not guilty — Mueller disclosed that he had secured a guilty plea from George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the campaign who admitted to lying to the FBI.
Lying to the FBI, that is, about his dealings with Russia. Dealings with Russia related to Hillary Clinton’s stolen emails.
There was still nothing close to a smoking gun on the president himself. By noon, though, you could see the smouldering wreckage of Trump’s frequent claim that Mueller’s investigation was a “witch hunt.” The probe was indisputably real, and what remains of the president’s reputation, at least, was not going to survive unscathed.
Trump himself remained largely quiet through the day, saying nothing for hours after tweeting “there is NO COLLUSION!”
The story outlined in the prosecutors’ “statement of offence,” which Papadopoulos signed, provided the most direct evidence unveiled to date of an attempt by someone in the Trump campaign to work with Russia.
leaves Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., on Monday. Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and his business associate Rick Gates have pleaded not guilty to felony charges of conspiracy against the United States and other counts.
It was also the first evidence that someone in the campaign knew of the hacked Clinton emails three months before they were released. Perhaps worst of all for Trump, the statement revealed that Papadopoulos has become a “proactive co-operator” in the investigation: Mueller’s team turned him into a witness after arresting him at a Washington-area airport in July.