Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, and another former campaign adviser, Rick Gates, were indicted Monday on money laundering and other charges, the first charges in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Here is a guide to Manafort and Gates’ business dealings and connections to the Trump campaign.
What are the charges against Manafort and Gates?
Manafort and Gates were indicted on 12 counts, including money laundering, acting as unregistered foreign agents, and making false statements to federal authorities. The 31-page indictment, which was unsealed Monday, also included several charges connected to hiding foreign bank accounts and financial information.
How are Manafort and Gates linked to Ukraine?
The indictments shed light on Manafort’s past business activities, in particular his and Gates’ lobbying work for the Ukrainian government and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych, a Kremlin ally, faced accusations of corruption during his presidency and criticism for the deaths of dozens of protesters in 2013. Yanukovych fled Ukraine in 2014 and is living in exile in Russia.
According to the indictment, Manafort and Gates lobbied United States officials on behalf of the Ukrainian government, Yanukovych and political parties in Ukraine from “at least” 2005 to 2016. During that time, Manafort and Gates did not register as foreign agents with the U.S., in violation of federal law.
Manafort and Gates “generated tens of millions of dollars in income as a result of their Ukraine work,” the indictment reads, and “laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts.” Manafort alone laundered more than $18 million, the indictment reads, and “used his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States.”
Manafort’s long career in politics and lobbying
Manafort’s career as a Republican political consultant goes back years. He helped former President Gerald Ford’s campaign manage the 1976 Republican National Convention. He also worked on the presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan in 1980, George H. W. Bush in 1988, and Bob Dole in 1996. Manafort, 68, is also a longtime lobbyist with deep ties in Washington. He helped form the lobbying firm Black, Manafort & Stone in 1980 (it later merged with another firm and was renamed), and has worked as a lobbyist for the past several decades.
Manafort joined Trump’s campaign in early 2016 and was hired as campaign chairman in June 2016, after Trump fired then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. At the time, Manafort was viewed as a veteran political operative who could help bring discipline to Trump’s outsider campaign, and navigate the complexities of a brokered convention in the event that Trump failed to clinch the GOP nomination by the end of the primaries.
But Manafort became a major distraction for the campaign two months later after news broke of his business dealings in Ukraine. He resigned from the campaign in August 2016, and Trump replaced him with Stephen Bannon, who steered the campaign — with Kellyanne Conway’s help — through Trump’s victory on Election Day.
Who is Rick Gates?
Gates has worked with Manafort for more than a decade. According to ABC, their relationship dates back to 2005, when they worked together at Davis Manafort Inc., a political consulting firm led by Manafort and Rick Davis, another political consultant. Gates later worked for Manafort’s international consulting firm. He joined the Trump campaign along with Manafort in 2016, but stayed on after Manafort was ousted. Gates helped manage the GOP convention, eventually rising to become a senior adviser on the campaign. Gates was also a top official for Trump’s inauguration committee.
How does George Papadopoulos fit into this?
In addition to the indictments against Manafort and Gates, prosecutors also released a separate document Monday revealing that a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser lied about his contacts with Russia. The former aide, George Papadopoulos, admitted earlier this year that he communicated with two people he thought were connected to the Kremlin as part of an effort to get information about Hillary Clinton. Papadopoulos was arrested earlier this year and has since reached a plea deal.
What do these indictments mean for the Trump-Russia campaign?
The charges Monday focused on Manafort and Gates’ activity and were not related to Trump, his campaign or its possible ties to Russia. But the indictments were a major step in Mueller’s probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 race and potential collusion with Trump’s campaign, and a sign of the investigation’s broad scope. The probe has been a distraction for the president and the Republican-controlled Congress, which has struggled to enact Trump’s agenda.
White House reaction
Trump responded to the indictment on Twitter, saying it proved there was no collusion between Russia and his campaign. “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 tweeted. In a second post, he wrote: “….Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters the indictment was unrelated to the campaign and also distanced the campaign from Papadopoulos, saying he held a “volunteer” position with Trump’s team during the election.
What’s next for Manafort and Gates?
Both men appeared in court Monday and plead not guilty to all 12 counts. A bond of $10 million was set for Manafort; the bond for Gates was set at $5 million. Of the charges they face, money laundering is the most serious and could result in a potential prison term of up to 20 years, according to the New York Times.