US charges ex-Trump cam­paign chief Manafort with con­spir­acy

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - In­ter­na­tional -

THE AP­POINT­MENT came one week after the fir­ing James Comey, who as FBI direc­tor led the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and also fol­lowed the re­cusal months ear­lier of At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions from the probe.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors have fo­cused on as­so­ciates in­clud­ing Manafort, whose home was raided in July by agents search­ing for tax and in­ter­na­tional bank­ing records, and ex-na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Michael Flynn, who was forced to re­sign in Fe­bru­ary after White House of­fi­cials said he had mis­led them about his con­ver­sa­tions with the Rus­sian am­bas­sador to the United States. Manafort joined Trump’s cam­paign in March 2016 and over­saw the con­ven­tion del­e­gate strat­egy. Trump pushed him out in Au­gust amid a steady stream of nega­tive head­lines about Manafort’s for­eign con­sult­ing work.

Trump’s mid­dle son, Eric Trump, said in an in­ter­view at the time that his fa­ther was con­cerned that ques­tions about Manafort’s past were tak­ing at­ten­tion away from the bil­lion­aire’s pres­i­den­tial bid.

Manafort has been a sub­ject of a long­stand­ing FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his deal­ings in Ukraine and work for the coun­try’s for­mer pres­i­dent, Vik­tor Yanukovych. That in­ves­ti­ga­tion was in­cor­po­rated into Mueller’s broader probe.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion has also reached into the White House, as Mueller ex­am­ines the cir­cum­stances of Comey’s fir­ing. In­ves­ti­ga­tors have re­quested ex­ten­sive doc­u­ments from the White House about key ac­tions since Trump took of­fice and have in­ter­viewed mul­ti­ple cur­rent and for­mer of­fi­cials.

Mueller’s grand jury has also heard tes­ti­mony about a June 2016 meet­ing at Trump Tower at­tended by a Rus­sian lawyer as well as Manafort, Don­ald Trump Jr., and the pres­i­dent’s son-in-law, Jared Kush­ner. In Gates, Mueller brings in not just Manafort’s chief deputy, but a key player from Trump’s cam­paign who sur­vived past Manafort’s ouster last sum­mer. As of two weeks ago, Gates was still work­ing for Tom Bar­rack, a Trump con­fi­dant, help­ing with the close­out of the in­au­gu­ra­tion com­mit­tee’s cam­paign ac­count.

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