Early Monday morning, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his assistant Rick Gates turned themselves into the FBI and were charged with conspiracy against the United States, among other charges.
This comes after many months of investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has been digging into possible collusion between the Russian government and President Donald Trump’s campaign for office. Mueller is investigating Russia’s possible effort to influence the 2016 Presidential election.
Paul Manafort was the campaign manager for Trump, until he was fired and replaced by Kellyanne Conway. Rick Gates was Manafort’s deputy, making him another ex-high ranking member of the President’s campaign team. Both were crucial in planning the 2016 GOP National Convention.
The full list of charges against Manafort and Gates contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. None of the charges were directly related to activities within the Trump campaign; however, Mueller could add more charges as the investigation continues.
On top of Manafort and Gates’ arrest, former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopolous also confessed to lying under oath to the FBI during the Russia investigation. Padadopolous offered to set up a meeting between Trump campaign officials and top Russian officials, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In response to his former campaign officials being arrested, Trump immediately tweeted out that “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary [Clinton] & the Dems the focus?????” Trump has been briefed on the charges, and is expected to make a formal statement Monday evening.
Junior Liam Johnson commented “Manafort was arrested for legitimate charges. This man is his own man and should be charged as himself, not as the entirety of the Trump campaign.”
Junior Ben Tekin said “I definitely think [Manafort] should be punished and convicted for his crimes, but Trump has nothing to do with this. He kicked Manafort off of his campaign immediately after he discovered his Russian connections.”
Junior Joe Hansen said “I think Trump knew about Manafort’s Russian connections, and didn’t do anything about it. He probably wanted Russia’s help in the election. Manafort took lots of money from Russia, much of which might’ve been used in Trump’s campaign.”
Mueller is expected to continue his investigation, and issue further charges against other individuals as needed. Manafort and Gates are slated to appear in court Monday afternoon for their initial hearing.