Live coverage: The latest on Mueller investigation
The Hill will be providing updated coverage of the developments on Monday, when the first individuals could be charged and taken into custody in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
Manafort’s lawyer calls Mueller charges ‘ridiculous’
Attorney Kevin Downing downplayed the charges filed Monday against his client, Paul Manafort, calling claims Manafort illegally concealed money from the United States government “ridiculous.”
Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was charged Monday in a 12-count indictment stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe into possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.
“There is no evidence that Mr. Manafort or the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government,” Downing told reporters after Manafort’s court appearance.
“Mr. Manafort represented pro-European Union campaigns for the Ukranians. And in that, he was seeking to further democracy, and to help the Ukraine come closer to the United States and the EU.”
“The claim that maintaining offshore accounts to bring all your funds into the United States as a scheme to conceal from the United States government is ridiculous,” he continued.
Downing called Mueller’s prosecution of Manafort using the Foreign Agents Registration Act “a very novel theory,” arguing the U.S. government has only used the legislation six times since 1966.
Manafort retained Downing, a former Department of Justice official, in August. Downing is known for his work representing clients facing complex financial investigations.
Manafort, Gates plead not guilty
President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Monday afternoon pleaded not guilty to all charges from special counsel from Robert Mueller.
His former business associate Rick Gates also pleaded not guilty.
Federal prosecutors are requesting a $10 million bail — to be set during a status hearing on Nov. 2 — and for Manafort to be released on house arrest at his home in Virginia.
The special counsel’s office considers him a flight risk, lawyers in Mueller’s office argued before Judge Deborah Robinson on Monday afternoon, citing the seriousness of the charges and the extent of Manafort’s ties abroad.
The FBI took possession of Manafort’s passport yesterday, his lawyer said.
The court currently stands in recess pending Robinson’s decision.
White House downplays former adviser’s guilty plea
The White House on Monday downplayed the new revelations that one of President Trump’s former foreign policy aides on his presidential campaign pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with Russians during the campaign.
The Justice Department announced on Monday that George Papadopoulos, who served on Trump’s campaign, pleaded guilty for lying when confronted about those contacts during an interview with the FBI.
The indictment says Papadopoulos spoke with a foreign professor who told him the Russians had “dirt” on Trump’s opponent, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, as well as with two other Russian nationals with ties to the government, in the hopes of orchestrating a meeting with campaign officials and Russian officials.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders downplayed the guilty plea, which was revealed on the same day that charges against two other high-ranking Trump campaign officials became public, when pressed on the issue during Monday’s White House briefing.
“It has nothing to do with the activities of the campaign, it has to do with his failure to tell the truth. That doesn’t have anything to do with the campaign or the campaign’s activities,” she said.
“This individual was the member of a volunteer counsel that met one time over the course of a year … He was not paid by the campaign. He was a volunteer on a counsel that met once.”
White House: Trump has ‘no intention’ to fire Mueller
President Trump does not plan to fire special counsel Robert Mueller in response to charges brought against three former Trump campaign aides, the White House said.
“There is no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the special counsel,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Monday.
Lewandowski: ‘There is a problem with the FBI’
President Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, ripped the FBI’s handling of the investigation into former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was indicted on a litany of charges on Monday.
Speaking on Fox Business Network’s “Varney & Co.,” Lewandowski pointed to reports that Manafort had been wiretapped before and after the election by U.S. investigators acting under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
It is unclear when the alleged FISA warrant was issued and the government has not confirmed its existence. But if the reports are true, Lewandowski said it would have been the FBI’s responsibility to notify the campaign that Manafort was under investigation so that they wouldn’t hire him.
Lewandowski said he and Trump never heard from the FBI.
“If the public reports are true, and there was a time where Paul Manafort was under a FISA warrant before coming to the Trump campaign, why is it the FBI never reached out to me as the campaign manager, never reached out to Donald Trump and said ‘look, you might want to pause for a second and take a look before you bring this guy on board as a volunteer to hunt delegates for you’,” Lewandowski said.
“They never did that. He was under a FISA warrant, supposedly, both before and after his tenure at the campaign and the FBI never notified the leading presidential candidate for a major Republican Party race? Never notified him of a potential problem? This is a problem with the FBI if you ask me.”
Manafort is charged with illegal foreign lobbying, tax evasion and money laundering, among other things. He turned himself in to the FBI on Monday. The indictment against Manafort and his business associate, Rick Gates, does not mention Trump or his campaign.
Lewandowski joined Trump in declaring that Manafort’s alleged wrongdoing occurred long before he joined the Trump campaign.
“If Paul Manafort did something in 2006, a decade before he was brought on as a volunteer to the Trump campaign, then he should be accountable for that,” Lewandowski said. “And he and his associate Rick Gates have now been indicted on 12 counts of money laundering and probably tax evasion and probably other things, which have absolutely nothing to do with the campaign, have nothing to do with the Russia investigation, and have nothing to do with the president.”
Manafort to appear before judge Monday afternoon
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is scheduled to appear before a federal judge at 1:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon.
A sprawling 31-page indictment, unsealed on Monday morning, accuses Manafort of laundering millions of dollars through overseas accounts that he used to buy luxury goods in the United States.
The charges come from special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating any possible collusion between President Trump’s campaign and Moscow — and any other matters arising from that probe.
The indictment makes no mention of Manafort’s work for Trump’s campaign, which began in March of 2016 and ended with his ouster in August.
Instead, the charges are related to work done by Manafort on behalf of a pro-Kremlin political party in Ukraine, for which Mueller alleges they were paid tens of millions of dollars that they then laundered “in order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities.”
Manafort will appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson.
Watch live: White House news briefing
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will answer questions from reporters on Monday afternoon, hours after an indictment against President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and an associate was unsealed.
You can watch the briefing, which is scheduled to begin at 1:15 p.m., here.
Schumer warns Trump: Don’t interfere in Mueller probe
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is warning President Trump not to interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation after Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was charged as part of the probe.
“The President must not, under any circumstances, interfere with the special counsel’s work in any way. If he does so, Congress must respond swiftly, unequivocally, and in a bipartisan way to ensure that the investigation continues,” Schumer said in a statement.
He added that “the rule of law is paramount in America and the investigation must be allowed to proceed unimpeded.”
Trump on Manafort indictment: It was years ago, why isn’t Clinton the focus of probe?
President Trump on Monday called for the focus to be shifted to Hillary Clinton after his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort turned himself in to the FBI after being indicted on 12 counts, including conspiracy against the United States.
“Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????” Trump tweeted.
“Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”
Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2017
….Also, there is NO COLLUSION!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2017
Former Trump campaign adviser pleads guilty to lying to FBI
One of President Trump’s former foreign policy advisers from his presidential campaign has pleaded guilty after lying to FBI agents investigating allegations of collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government.
George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty earlier this month, according to court filings unsealed on Monday. The Justice Department unsealed the documents shortly after it announced charges against two other, higher-ranking, Trump campaign officials — Paul Manafort and Rick Gates.
Prosecutors charged Papadopoulos with lying to investigators about his conversations with a foreign professor who told him that Russians had thousands of emails containing “dirt” on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. The Trump aide told the FBI that those conversations happened before he joined the campaign, statements rebutted by the Justice Department’s timeline.
The indictment of Paul Manafort lays out how he used his hidden overseas wealth to support a “lavish lifestyle” in the United States without paying taxes on the income.
Manafort, the indictment says, “spent millions of dollars on luxury goods and services for himself and his extended family through payments wired from offshore nominee accounts to United States vendors.”
In sum, Manafort is accused of laundering over $18 million, which he used to purchase multi-million dollar luxury properties, goods and services in the U.S.
For instance, the indictment says Manafort secretly wired nearly $5.5 million to a home improvement company in the U.S. He spent nearly $1 million on antique rugs at a shop in Alexandria, Va., more than $1.3 million at clothing stores in New York and Beverly Hills, over $800,000 on landscaping and hundreds of thousands on luxury cars.
Manafort also borrowed millions in loans while using his luxury properties in the U.S. as “collateral,” the indictment says, in order to obtain cash in the states without reporting his income or paying taxes on it.
Trump to lunch with Sessions amid Manafort charges
President Trump on Monday is scheduled to have lunch with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, just hours after Trump’s former campaign chairman was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Sessions was invited to join Trump’s weekly lunch with Vice President Pence, which is closed to press coverage.
It’s likely Trump will raise the indictment of Paul Manafort, which represents a significant escalation of the special counsel probe that has loomed over his presidency for months.
The president in the past has criticized Sessions for his handling of the Russia investigation, blaming his decision to recuse himself for Mueller’s appointment.
Mueller’s team charged Manafort with 12 counts, including conspiracy against the United States and money laundering related to his work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.
Some believe Mueller could use the charges to attempt to extract information from Manafort about whether the campaign colluded with Russia to influence in the presidential election.
Trump allies have expressed confidence Manafort would not reveal damaging information about Trump or his team in a deal with prosecutors.
Republicans says GOP should support probe
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) on Monday said Republicans need to continue to support special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation into Russian election interference.
“Months ago I & many other Republicans vowed to support Mueller investigation & allow it to work its way through process to get the facts,” Banks tweeted Monday.
“In light of today’s indictments we must continue to support and allow the integrity of the process to work.
Manafort indicted on 12 counts
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been charged with 12 counts, including conspiracy against the United States, according to the office of special counsel Robert Mueller.
Manafort’s former business partner, Rick Gates, who was ousted from the pro-Trump group America First Policies in April, has also been charged.
The charges are related to work done by Manafort and Gates on behalf of a pro-Kremlin political party in Ukraine, for which the government alleges they were paid tens of millions of dollars that they then laundered “in order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities.”
Manafort and Gates, “together with others, knowingly and intentionally conspired to defraud the United States by impeding, impairing, obstructing and defeating the lawful governmental functions of a government agency, namely the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury,” prosecutors argued in a sprawling 31-page indictment unsealed on Monday morning.
The two have been charged with laundering tens of millions of dollars “through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts,” according to the indictment.
You can read the indictment here.
Wall Street Journal: Tax fraud among charges against Manafort
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that tax fraud is among the charges against Paul Manafort.
The former Trump campaign chairman is slated to appear in a Washington, D.C., federal court on Monday, the newspaper added.
Manafort to surrender: report
CNN is reporting that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been indicted and will turn himself in to the FBI later today.
It’s not clear what Manafort has been charged with, but a federal judge is expected to unseal the indictment against him on Monday.
The New York Times is reporting that one of Manafort’s business partners, Rick Gates, has also been instructed to surrender to authorities.
Washington on edge
Washington is on edge Monday morning in anticipation of potential action in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
CNN first reported Friday that a federal jury had authorized the first indictments in the probe, which are said to be under seal by a judge’s orders. There is speculation that individuals could be charged and taken into custody as early as Monday.
Reporters early Monday were staking out the Alexandria, Va., home of President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, but there does not appear to be any movement there so far.
Sun coming up at Manafort Alexandria condo. Half dozen TV crews, stills, a few DASH buses. No action. pic.twitter.com/wGiV1ox4iq
— Josh Gorestein (@joshgerstein) October 30, 2017
Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, is also believed to be at the center of Mueller’s investigation.
Washington was buzzing over the weekend about how Trump might react if someone who was once close to him or his campaign is arrested.
Democrats are warning that the country would be thrust into a constitutional crisis if he were to fire Mueller. And there is speculation that Trump may seek to pardon one of his former allies.
Trump vented over Twitter on Sunday that he is the subject of a “witch hunt” and called on investigators to “do something” about a litany of controversies surrounding Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent in the election.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said on “Fox News Sunday” that Mueller has not done anything to shake his confidence in the veracity of the investigation and that it should continue unabated.
“I would encourage my Republican friends — give the guy a chance to do his job,” Gowdy said. “The result will be known by the facts, by what he uncovers. The personalities involved are much less important to me than the underlying facts. So, I would — I would say give the guy a chance to do his job.”
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