WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and a former business associate, Rick Gates, surrendered to federal authorities Monday morning, according to reports and a person familiar with the matter.
The charges are the first in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Manafort and Gates have been indicted on 12 counts, including conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading Foreign Agents Registration Act statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.
The White House declined to comment.
Mueller was appointed as special counsel in May to lead the Justice Department’s investigation into whether the Kremlin worked with associates of the Trump campaign to tip the 2016 presidential election.
Manafort has been one of Mueller’s prime targets. Earlier this year, FBI agents raided Manafort’s home, searching for tax and international banking records. Manafort has been a subject of a longstanding FBI investigation into his dealings in Ukraine and work for the country’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych. That investigation was incorporated into Mueller’s broader probe.
In Gates, Mueller brings in not just Manafort’s chief deputy, but a key player from Trump’s campaign who survived past Manafort’s ouster last summer. As of two weeks ago, Gates was still working for Tom Barrack, a Trump confidant, helping with the closeout of the inauguration committee’s campaign account.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump expressed renewed frustration Sunday over the investigations into alleged ties between his campaign associates and Russian government officials, saying on Twitter that the “facts are pouring out” about links to Russia by his former presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton.
“DO SOMETHING!” Trump urged in one of five morning tweets.
Trump’s tweets followed a CNN report late Friday that a federal grand jury in Washington has approved the first charges in a criminal investigation into Russia ties led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Ty Cobb, a member of Trump’s legal team, said the president was not referring to CNN’s reporting.
“Contrary to what many have suggested, the president’s comments today are unrelated to the activities of the special counsel, with whom he continues to cooperate,” Cobb said in a statement.
Trump and the White House insist there was no collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia. Both have pointed a finger at Clinton and have suggested that the real story of collusion with Russia is the sale of uranium to Moscow when Clinton was secretary of state.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered with the election to benefit Trump, a finding that Trump has not fully accepted. Mueller and Congress are looking into allegations of ties between Trump associates and Russia.
In the tweets, Trump referenced the fact that Clinton’s presidential campaign helped fund political research into Trump that ultimately produced a dossier of allegations about his ties to Russia. He also pointed to the uranium sale, the tens of thousands of emails from Clinton’s time at the State Department that she later deleted from a private email server, and the decision by then-FBI Director Jim Comey to not bring criminal charges against Clinton for possible mishandling of classified information.
“Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia ‘collusion,’ which doesn’t exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R’s are now fighting back like never before,” Trump says across several tweets. “There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!”
In a final tweet on the subject, Trump suggests that Russia’s re-emergence into the conversation is no accident.
“All of this ‘Russia’ talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!”
On Wednesday, Republican lawmakers are scheduled to release a tax cut bill being pushed by the GOP lawmakers and Trump.
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