Russia Investigation Indicts Three

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Special prosecutor Robert Mueller and his grand jury investigating allegations of the Trump campaign’s Russia connections has issued three indictments:  former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, his associate Rick Gates, and former Trump advisor George Papadopoulos.

Manafort and Gates were charged with money-laundering and refusing to register as a foreign agent, as the law requires.  But this lawbreaking took place long before Manafort was working for Trump.  Manafort was taking millions from the pro-Russian government of Ukraine to lobby for their interests.  But he covered up his involvement by illegally laundering the money he was being paid and by not registering as a lobbyist for a foreign government.  (Go here for details.)

Both Manafort and Gates were arrested and have pled not guilty.  Bail has been set at $10 million and $5 million respectively.  The two are confined to their homes.  Manafort faces up to 15 years in prison and Gates faces up to 12 years.  (See this.)

But, again, those arrests do not touch the President.

Possibly more harmful to the president, though, is the arrest a few weeks ago of Papadopoulos.  He was charged with lying to the investigators.  He was in touch with Russians who had offered “dirt” on the Clintons.   Papadopoulos has pled guilty and is reportedly “co-operating” with the Mueller investigation.  (See this.)

President Trump and his spokesmen are saying that Papadopoulos was a low-ranking worker and is a “liar.”  But Mueller makes it sound as if he knows something.  He is certainly sending a message to the people they are interrogating:  If you don’t tell the truth, you will be prosecuted for that.  And if he is indicting people involved with the allegations of Russians passing along to the Trump campaign damaging information on Mrs. Clinton, that would possibly involved the President’s son and son-in-law, who were present at one of those meetings.  And if the Russians actually did pass along such information, that would constitute tampering with the election and be a big problem for the president.

If members of Trump’s family are indicted, I predict that the president will use his powers of pardon.

 

Photo:  Paul Manafort by ABC/Disney, via Flickr, Creative Commons License

 

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