Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and another of his associates, former Trump campaign official Rick Gates, have surrendered to Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller. The two men turned themselves in to the FBI Monday. Manafort and Gates are the first to face charges in the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling into the 2016 Presidential election.
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The charges the men are facing are not yet clear. Early speculation suggests that the FBI has been paying close attention to taxes. Manafort and Gates have worked together for more than a decade. Gates served as Manafort’s deputy on the Trump campaign.
The indictment has been released, and it is long: 31 pages. Most of the charges relate to tax evasion, though the first charge is conspiracy against the United States.
As of this writing, there’s no word from the White House. A White House spokesman told CNN the Trump administration “may not have a response at all.”
Part of what is being scrutinized is Manafort’s work for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort took payments from the Ukrainian officials, some of which may not have been properly reported.
CNN is reporting that the FBI payed close attention to the tax year 2010. Failure to pay taxes may well be the official reason for the indictment, on the surface, but the conspiracy charges are the most serious.
One thing to note is that this indictment does not mention the Trump campaign at all. There is mention of crimes committed during the Trump campaign when Manafort was acting as the campaign manager.
While there are no direct ties to the Trump administration at this point, there may be more coming. With Muller and Gates facing these intense charges, the pressure is now on these two men to flip sides and rat out their cohorts in return for lighter sentencing.