Analysis by Reporting San Diego
Oct 30, 2017 (WASHINGTON) Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates were indicted over charges including money laundering and conspiracy against the United States. The charging document is found here.
The charges are serious and both men have already faced a judged and pled not guilty. The charges against Manafort are no surprise and were expected after the authorities raided his property with a no-knock warrant, which is not that uncommon
The indictment against these two men alleges that Manafort and Gates lobbied on behalf of the Ukrainian government, without registering as foreign agents. It also alleges that they did not report foreign assets, and that laundered money to the tune of millions of dollars. Some of these activities were ongoing all the way to the 2017 time frame, that coincides with the campaign.
This is a classic white-collar investigation. While these charges are serious, there is a reality that further charges could be filed later.
It is the second set of charges, to which George Papadopolous has already pled guilty, that could pose a serious problem for the Donald J Trump White House. Incidentally, it is not the lying to federal officials that is the problem here. That is a run of the mill of the charge. The details of the offense hint to the Russian collusion.
Following his March 24, 2016 meeting with the Professor and the Female Russian National, defendant PAPADOPOULOS emailed the Campaign Supervisor and several members of the Campaign’s foreign policy team and stated that he had just met with his “good friend” the Professor, who had introduced him to the Female Russian National (described by defendant PAPADOPOULOS in the email as “Putin’s niece”) and the Russian Ambassador in London. 1 Defendant PAPADOPOULOS stated that the topic oftheir discussion was “to arrange a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump.” The Campaign Supervisor responded that he would “work it through the campaign,” but that no commitments should be made at that point. The Campaign Supervisor added: “Great work.”
While the female Russian Agent was not related to Vladimir Putin, it is clear that the campaign knew of this.
Later in the charging document, we read that:
a. For example, the day after his meeting at the hotel with the Professor, on or about April 27, 2016, defendant PAPADOPOULOS emailed the Senior Policy Advisor: “Have some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right.”
b. Also on or about April 27, 2016, defendant PAPADOPOULOS emailed a high-ranking official of the Campaign (the “High-Ranking Campaign Official”) “to discuss Russia’s interest in hosting Mr. Trump. Have been receiving a lot of calls over the last month about Putin wanting to host him and the team when the time is right.”
And on page 8 we find this footnote:
The government notes that the official forwarded defendant PAPADOPOULOS’s email to another Campaign official (without including defendant PAPADOPOULOS) and stated: “Let[‘]s discuss. We need someone to communicate that OT is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”
Who exactly where they trying to send a signal to? The Russians, or who else?
The emails also point to the presence of damaging information regarding Hillary Clinton, and we know that later there was a meeting between Donald Trump Jr and a Russian lawyer. They both claimed it was over adoption, but this points to that other email track.
All these factors point to possible collusion.
Both cases also tell us that this is the real beginning. The case against Manafort and Gates is complex. By its very nature, being a white collar crime, involving finances, it will be hard to prove for the government. It will be a while before this goes to trial.
The latter case tells us that this young man is cooperating with the Feds. What he was offered in exchange is a good question. Leniency from the court is usually one thing dangled, and he is young.
The white house tried to paint him as a mere low-level volunteer. Low-level volunteers do not participate in advisory meetings at Trump Tower. Nor would, generally speaking, they would be highlighting in a then-candidate Trump Tweet.
The efforts to distance from the White House were comical at best. This tells us that yes, they are indeed worried. What is true in these cases is that more indictments are possible. Also that this looks and smells like a classic RICO investigation. Right now the prosecutor is going after relatively small fish. It is a well-known tactic.
Updated to a more precise headline