Robert Mueller’s special investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election revealed the first round of legal charges against Trump’s former Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort.
On Monday, Mueller’s Russia Probe charged Manafort with money laundering and tax fraud, after it was announced that another Trump policy aid, George Papadopoulos had pled guilty to lying to federal investigators.
The detailed charges against Papadopoulos show that he lied to federal investigators about the timeline of meetings that the early campaign had with Russian backed officials.
The 12 charges being leveled against the 68-year-old Manafort also hit Richard Gates, a long-time business associate who had also worked on the Trump campaign. Both Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty during their arraignments on Monday afternoon.
This sudden burst of action by Mueller has many speculating that these charges were brought in order to “squeeze” these key figures into giving up more information about possible Russian involvement in the 2016 election – a common tactic used by the feds.
The news had many Democrats celebrating, hoping that this will help Mueller build a strong case against high-ranking officials from the Trump’s campaign — and eventually against President Donald Trump himself.
On Monday, the White House responded by downplaying these charges against Manafort and Gates, saying that they had nothing to do with the campaign and they don’t prove any collusion with Russia.
As per the FBI, Papadopoulos was lying about when the conversation had occurred; it actually happened only after he had joined the Trump campaign and just a month after the emails of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta were notified to be hacked.
Papadopoulos was arrested in July but didn’t enter a plea deal until October 5th. He has cooperated with investigators ever since his arrest, and had met with the government officials on “numerous occasions” to provide further information to the investigation.
“Special Counsel Mueller appears to have a cooperating witness, George Papadopoulos. That is significant. Time will tell how significant,” Obama-era District Attorney Preet Bharara tweeted, in triumph.
The investigation’s court filings relating to Papadopoulos depict an ambitious advisor, eager to bolster his position within the Trump campaign by leveraging his relationships and networking with a certain Russian woman.
On numerous occasions, he had tried to negotiate a meeting between Trump, his campaign officials and the “members of President Putin’s office,” as well as the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The indictment however also hints heavily that the Mueller’s team knows far more than it is disclosing to the public.
“These facts do not constitute all of the facts known to the parties concerning the charged offenses; they are being submitted to demonstrate that sufficient facts exist that the defendant committed the offense to which he is pleading guilty,” the court documents ominously hinted.