Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, both of whom worked on Donald Trump’s campaign, were indicted Monday on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, money laundering, and several other financial charges.
Court papers also revealed that former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents.
The charges against Manafort and Gates stemmed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible ties between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia. The indictment filed in federal court in Washington accused both men of funneling tens of millions of dollars in payments through foreign companies and bank accounts.
The two men surrendered to federal authorities and were expected in court later Monday to face the charges against them.
■ Ties to Trump: Manafort, now 68, worked for several months as the campaign chairman for Donald Trump.
A veteran Republican strategist, he first joined the campaign in March 2016 and oversaw the convention delegate strategy.
Trump soon promoted him to chairman and chief strategist, a job that gave him control over day-to-day campaign operations.
But Trump fired Manafort in August 2016, after negative headlines about his foreign consulting work, including reports that he received more than $12 million in undisclosed payments from Viktor F. Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president and a pro-Russia politician. Manafort spent years as a political consultant for Yanukovych.
The Associated Press has reported that Manafort also represented a Russian billionaire a decade ago with the goal of advancing the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Manafort’s connection to Trump dates back to the 1980s when Manafort was hired by Trump to lobby on gambling and real estate issues. Manafort said in an e-mail to the New York Times this past spring that while he and Trump had business ties dating back to the 1980s, “we had no relationship until the Trump campaign called me.”
■ Ties to the investigation: Manafort has been one of the main targets of Mueller’s investigation. The indictment handed down Monday alleges that Manafort funneled tens of millions of dollars in payments as part of his political work in Ukraine. It did not, however, mention the Trump campaign or suggest coordination between the campaign and the Kremlin to influence the outcome of the election.
This past summer, FBI agents raided Manafort’s home, searching for tax and international banking records.
He has also been a subject of a longstanding FBI investigation into his dealings in Ukraine and work for Yanukovych. That investigation was incorporated into Mueller’s broader probe.
Previously, he denied any wrongdoing related to his Ukrainian work, saying through a spokesman that it ‘‘was totally open and appropriate.’’
Manafort recently registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for Ukrainian work that occurred in Washington. The filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act came retroactively, a tacit acknowledgment that he operated in Washington in violation of the federal transparency law.
Manafort has expected charges since this summer, when agents raided his home and prosecutors warned him that they planned to indict him.
■ Ties to Trump: Gates, 45, a protégé and junior partner to Manafort, was his chief deputy and also worked on Trump’s campaign. Gates and Manafort met nearly three decades ago at a Washington consulting firm.
Gates continued to work on Trump’s campaign even after Manafort was ousted last summer, amid allegations Manafort had taken millions of dollars from Kremlin allies.
As of two weeks ago, Gates was still working for Trump confidant Tom Barrack, helping with the closeout of the inauguration committee’s campaign account.
■ Ties to investigation: This past spring, amid questions about Russian interference in the election, Gates was abruptly forced out of a lobbying group formed to advanced Trump’s agenda.
His name appears on documents linked to companies that Manafort’s firm set up in Cyprus to receive payments from politicians and business people in Eastern Europe, records reviewed by The New York Times show.
Gates told the Times in June, “Everything was done legally and with the approval of our lawyers. Nothing to my knowledge was ever done inappropriately.”
But on Monday, Gates, like Manafort, was indicted on charges of funneling tens of millions of dollars in payments as part of his political work in Ukraine.
■ Ties to Trump: He was an adviser on Trump’s campaign.
In March 2016, when Papadopoulos was announced as part of the campaign’s foreign policy advisory team, he was directing an international energy center at the London Centre of International Law Practice.
He previously advised the presidential campaign of Ben Carson and worked as a research fellow at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington. He graduated from college in 2009, The Washington Post reported.
■ Ties to investigation: Internal e-mails show that Papadopoulos repeatedly sought to organize meetings with campaign officials, including Trump, along with Putin and other Russians. His efforts were rebuffed.
Papadopoulos was one of several members of the campaign’s foreign policy team for whom Mueller asked for internal communications records.
Court documents released Monday showed that Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to charges that he lied to federal agents working for Mueller’s team, thus impeding the Trump-Russia investigation.
What Trump, his team have said
Trump tweeted Monday morning: “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?????”
In a follow-up tweet, he added, “....Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”
Late last week, after news organizations began to report that a federal grand jury had approved the first charges stemming from Mueller’s probe, White House lawyer Ty Cobb said, “The president has no concerns in terms of any impact, as to what happens to them, on his campaign or on the White House.”
The president has also sought to downplay Manafort’s role with his campaign.
Trump has instructed White House staff members to cooperate with investigators, Cobb said. He said that none of the White House documents turned over to Mueller showed evidence that anyone colluded with Russia, or that Trump tried to obstruct justice.
Mueller has begun interviewing White House staff but as of late last week he had not yet requested to speak with Trump.Material from the Associated Press and the New York Times was used in this report. Matt Rocheleau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele