Donald Trump, Paul Manafort. Robert Mueller, Russia, Rick Gates,

The Mueller Machine Keeps Rolling

By Grace Lidia Suárez

Yesterday Richard Gates pled guilty to two felonies, one count of conspiracy against the United States, and one count of making a false statement to the FBI. According to CNBC,

Gates knowingly lied when he told the special counsel that Manafort, after a March 2013 meeting with a lobbyist and a member of Congress, had said that Ukraine had not been mentioned in the meeting. Not only was that statement never made, the information says, but Gates himself helped prepare a report describing the discussions on Ukraine that had taken place at that meeting.

That false statement was made on Feb. 1 — the same day Gates’ legal counsel filed a motion to withdraw as his defense.

Gates also pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the U.S. by making false statements regarding his status as a foreign agent, a charge initially proffered in the first indictment from Oct. 27, 2017.

By the way, that explains to me why his attorney withdrew. Under a ruling called Nix v. Whiteside, a lawyer who cannot keep his client from lying must withdraw. This is a simplification of the rule, but valid for these purposes. Dive into the decision if you’re curious.

Later the same day Mueller filed another indictment, charging Manafort only. According to CNN, the grand jury found,

Manafort, with the assistance of longtime business partner Rick Gates, “secretly retained a group of former senior European politicians to take positions favorable to Ukraine, including by lobbying in the United States.”

The new indictment came less than two hours after Gates pleaded guilty to two criminal charges in federal court and pledged to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia and the 2016 presidential election.

Prosecutors say Manafort orchestrated a group of former European politicians, called the “Hapsburg group,” to pose as independent voices. Yet they covertly pushed positions favorable to Ukraine as paid lobbyists. Manafort used offshore accounts to pay the former politicians 2 million euros.

Manafort also allegedly used $4 million from an offshore account to fund a report on the trial of a political opponent jailed by his clients. A lawyer involved in the report — Alex van der Zwaan — pleaded guilty to lying to investigators earlier this week.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is now involved, according to some reports. He is said to be the unnamed congressman in Count Two of the Gates Information.

According to Talking Points Memo,

Buried in the plea agreement documents released Friday for former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates was one remarkable detail. Just this month, Gates lied to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team and to the FBI about what transpired during a spring 2013 meeting held by his longtime boss and fellow Trump campaign veteran Paul Manafort.

Per the court filing, Gates on Feb. 1 knowingly and falsely testified that “there were no discussions of Ukraine” at a March 19, 2013 meeting between Manafort, “a senior Company A lobbyist,” and “a Member of Congress.”

The member of Congress appears have been Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), jokingly nicknamed “Putin’s favorite congressman” for his strong pro-Russia stance. Manafort’s June 2017 FARA filing– which acknowledges that his firm, DMP International, LLC, conducted millions of dollars in business with the pro-Russia Ukrainian Party of Regions –notes that he met with Rohrabacher on that day. Three days later, Manafort donated $1,000 to Rohrabacher’s congressional campaign.

Miscellany of Interest

In a further setback for Manafort, the judge has refused to accept a property that is already subject to foreclosure as collateral, thus leaving him under house arrest.

And here’s a funny article about how Manafort’s computer illiteracy helped prosecutors.

Check out this take on the bigger picture of Gates/Manafort and why it involves Trump.

And this tasty bit from NBC about a possible quid pro quo:

Federal investigators are probing whether former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort promised a Chicago banker a job in the Trump White House in return for $16 million in home loans, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told NBC News.

Once again,

Stay tuned kids.

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