Two ex-Trump aides charged in Rus­sia probe, 3rd pleads guilty

Stabroek News - - WORLD NEWS -

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 yes­ter­day.

A third for­mer Trump ad­viser, Ge­orge Pa­padopou­los, pleaded guilty in early Oc­to­ber to ly­ing to the FBI, it was an­nounced yes­ter­day.

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 favour 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 on Thurs­day.

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 prison sen­tence.

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 yes­ter­day 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 lit­tle­known 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.

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 of­fi­cial.

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 was Gates.

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 proRus­sian 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 Manafort’s 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 Yanukovich.

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 in­dict­ment said.

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 MercedesBenz.

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.

Urquhart REUTERS/James Lawler Dug­gan/Jim

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Guyana

© PressReader. All rights reserved.