Manafort, Gates Indicted By Mueller Special Investigation

Oct 30, 2017
Originally published on October 30, 2017 9:48 am

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on Monday was charged by the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in last year's U.S. election.

Manafort was charged along with his long time business associate, Rick Gates. In addition, George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser, has pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents about his contacts with Russians.

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Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has been indicted by the Mueller investigation looking into Russian interference in last year's U.S. election. Manafort was charged today along with his longtime business associate, Rick Gates. In addition, a third indictment today - George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser, has pled guilty to making false statements to FBI agents about his contacts with Russians. NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas joins me now in the studio. Ryan, let's talk about Paul Manafort first. The FBI raided his home this past summer. Clearly, he was a central focus of the Mueller investigation. What can you tell us about the charges against him and Rick Gates?

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Well, the 31-page indictment alleges that Manafort and Gates used offshore bank accounts extensively to shield tens of millions of dollars of wealth from basically U.S. tax authorities. In total, according to the indictment, there's $75 million allegedly that flowed through these accounts. Manafort allegedly laundered $18 million to conceal it from the U.S. government. Gates, I believe, it's about $3 million. And they used a number of shell accounts, business entities, to kind of hide this money from the U.S. government. In total, there are 12 counts in the indictment. One count is conspiracy against the U.S. There's conspiracy to launder money and also making false statements to federal agents.

MARTIN: Let's turn to the third person indicted today, a man named George Papadopoulos. Tell us who he is and what he is being charged with.

LUCAS: So Papadopoulos is a 30-year-old who served as a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. He was named a foreign policy advisor in March of 2016. And according to court papers, he established a relationship with a professor overseas who he knew had close ties with officials in the Kremlin and, generally speaking, in the Russian government. And through the course of their relationship that developed over several months, there was a back and forth in attempt to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin. He was also, according to court papers, told by the professor in April of 2016 that the Russian government had dirt on Hillary, including thousands of emails. He pled guilty today, Papadopoulos did, and that was for misrepresenting the statements that he made to the FBI.

MARTIN: We should just clarify, this is separate from the Manafort indictment which is about his operations - personal, financial operations - in Ukraine. The Papadopoulos issue is about direct connections that this man had with Russia.

LUCAS: Exactly, yes.

MARTIN: And we will be getting more details on that. NPR's Ryan Lucas covering it for us this morning. Thank you so much.

LUCAS: Thank you.

MARTIN: For more on this, we spoke with Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee. And we taped our conversation earlier today before the release of the names of all three men who were charged.

Congressman, thanks so much for being here.

ADAM SCHIFF: It's my pleasure.

MARTIN: What is your reaction to the news this morning, that Paul Manafort has turned himself in to the FBI?

SCHIFF: Well, it's not a complete surprise and not even really that much of a surprise. He had been telling people that he expected to be indicted, that he'd been told he'd been indicted, so it was really a question of time. But it's a key development. This is no small fish. This is the campaign manager for the Trump campaign at the pivotal time in which the Russians approached the campaign and offer help in the form of derogatory information about Secretary Clinton, and the emails start being dumped. So he's a pivotal character, and if he decides to cooperate, we could learn a lot more.

MARTIN: What can you tell us, if anything, about the other man who was also charged today, Rick Gates?

SCHIFF: Gates was a longtime partner of Manafort's, so Gates would have a lot of knowledge as well about his work in the Ukraine, both of their work in Ukraine. They did work for a pro-Russia party, at least Mr. Manafort did. And there are multiple allegations that have been publicly reported that Ukraine and Russian interests in Ukraine laundered money for Mr. Manafort or with Mr. Manafort. So Mr. Gates would know a lot about that. Remember, Manafort was at that pivotal meeting in which the Russians were approaching him and Jared Kushner and the president's son through intermediaries offering information. But also Manafort, according to The Washington Post, was, through emails, offering information to the Russians through a very important oligarch named Oleg Deripaska, who is very close to Putin. He was offering information about his own campaign in exchange for money, money that he believed was due him for work in Ukraine.

So what information was he offering the Russians? You have to think it may very well have involved sanctions on Russia. That was their top priority, getting rid of any sanctions. Magnitsky had sanctions or the sanctions over there in invasion of Ukraine, so he could tell us a great deal about the flow of information to and from the Trump campaign in the direction of the Kremlin, and that could be key to our investigation.

MARTIN: Is this the beginning of the road or the end of the road?

SCHIFF: I don't think we can say, but, you know, a lot of people are speculating that he would go after small fish first. These are not small fish. This is the campaign manager who is in central position at the time that the Russians were intervening on Mr. Trump's behalf. So it does appear that he has moved very quickly, that he is - understands that there's a sense of urgency about his task but also that he feels that the information that Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates could provide might be central to understanding what Americans are really interested in ultimately getting at it, and that is, was there some level of cooperation or coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians while they were violating our sovereignty and interfering in our affairs?

MARTIN: Is there a chance we will never know the answer to that question?

SCHIFF: You know, there's certainly a chance that we won't know the full dimensions of the interactions between the campaign and the Russians. The Russians obviously are not going to cooperate with us in any way, shape or form, and they're beyond the jurisdiction of our subpoena power. So there may very well be things that we don't learn or don't learn for a long time. It's also possible, frankly - and this is something I've raised with the Justice Department - the things that Bob Mueller uncovers he doesn't share with us, and they don't result in indictment. And that means that our report to the public may not be as complete as it should, and that's an issue we're going to have to work through.

MARTIN: California Democrat Adam Schiff, the ranking member on the House intelligence committee, thanks for your time this morning.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

MARTIN: I want to bring back in Ryan Lucas, who covers the Justice Department for NPR. Ryan, what has the White House response been to this news today? Has there been any?

LUCAS: Well, the president tweeted this morning that, you know, the charges in the Manafort case stem from years ago before he was a part of the Trump campaign. And then he added, quote, "but why aren't crooked Hillary and the Dems the focus?" Also there was no collusion. That has been the response from the president, at least of now. The president's re-election campaign also fired out an email to supporters this morning after Manafort's indictment came down. It was entitled Still Standing, and it basically lashes out at the media, accuses the media of playing politics and kind of sowing division and turning the American people against themselves and asks for contributions.

MARTIN: NPR's Ryan Lucas covering the news today that Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, has been indicted, along with two other individuals. Thanks so much for your time this morning, Ryan.

LUCAS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.