Early this morning former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort surrendered to FBI officials in response to the indictment issued by a federal grand jury last Friday. The other person also named in the indictment was his assistant Robert Gates.
The indictment contained 12 charges levied against the two men and include:
- conspiracy against the United States
- conspiracy to launder money
- 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 statements
Paul Manafort, as many know, replaced Corey Lewandowski as Trump’s campaign manager during the primaries and continued in that role through the Republican Convention and after, when he was subsequently replaced by Steve Bannon. The only change in the Republican platform that the Trump campaign team asked for regarded sales of U.S. arms to the Ukraine. And Manafort’s ties to Ukrainian oligarchs are well known.
Rick Gates, who was Manafort’s assistant, continued on with the campaign after Manafort left and continued on with the transition team following Trump’s election in November.
According to CNN, these charges cover the period from 2009 to 2017 which includes the period that both worked on the Trump campaign and afterwards. There is still much speculation on how these charges might or might not involve the Trump campaign. The indictment itself does not specifically name any activities involving Trump or his campaign.
Manafort was also one of the three participants in the now notorious June 6, 2016 meeting along with Donald Trump, Jr. and Jared Kushner in Trump Tower with people who have turned out to be operatives of the Russian government. Manafort also has been a long-time friend of Trump and owns an apartment in Trump Tower, where Donald Trump lived prior to the election.
Speculation will be rife on the news channels (except perhaps Fox News which was running an important story on hamburger emojis when Manafort surrendered) on what this indictment means and the implications for Trump and his administration. But the Trump administration will be dealing with a major issue at the same time while it is trying to get it’s major tax reform legislation through Congress.
But bear in mind that this is just the beginning. And there is no doubt that there will be more to come.