WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and one of his associates, Rick Gates, turned themselves in to Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller on Monday after the two were indicted under seal on Friday.
Gates is a longtime business associate of Manafort, having worked together since the mid-2000s.
Manafort was indicted on 12 counts including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, being an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.
Manafort arrived at the FBI’s Washington field office Monday morning. The two men are expected to be processed separately, according to a law enforcement official. They will later be transported to federal district court in Washington later Monday morning.
The charges against the two top officials stem from the investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and members of Mr. Trump’s team as well as potential obstruction of justice and financial crimes.
Manafort, whose work for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has attracted scrutiny from federal investigators, has previously denied financial wrongdoing regarding his Ukraine-related payments, his bank accounts in offshore tax shelters and his various real-estate transactions over the years. Gates, who has also denied wrongdoing, was Manafort’s longtime business associate in his lobbying firm before being tapped as his deputy on Mr. Trump’s campaign.
They are the first two officials in President Trump’s orbit charged in connection with the special counsel investigation, which is exploring whether President’s actions surrounding the firing of former FBI Director James Comey amount to obstruction of justice. Mueller has taken a broad approach to his mandate that includes a focus on the financial dealings of Mr. Trump’s team.
Before the indictment, the FBI in July executed a so-called no-knock search warrant with guns drawn at Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Virginia, seizing financial and tax documents, including some that had already been provided to congressional investigators.
On Monday, the White House said the charge have nothing to do with Mr. Trump’s campaign or his presidency.
“Today has zero to do with the White House,” a source close to the White House told CNN, noting that the indictments laid out by Mueller on Monday pertain to Manafort and Gates’ business dealings, not their campaign conduct.
Another source stated, “These guys were bad guys when they started, they were bad guys when they left.”
Adding, “It has nothing to do with any relationship to Russia.”
President Trump tweeted Monday: “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?????”
“….Also, there is NO COLLUSION!” he added.
Also on Monday, George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty in a separate case for making false statements to the FBI, according to records. Papadopolous, according to the complaint, lied to FBI agents “about the timing, extent and nature of his relationships and interactions with certain foreign nationals whom he understood to have close connections with senior Russian government officials.”
Among the details, the FBI alleges Papadopolous “falsely described his interactions with a certain foreign contact who discussed “dirt” related to emails concerning Hillary Clinton.
These interactions happened while Papadopolous was a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, according to the complaint.