US charges ex-Trump campaign chief Manafort with conspiracy
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.