Several Former Trump Campaign Officials Charged in Russian Investigation

The first charges to come from the ongoing investigation into possible collusion between Donald Trump and Russia have come to light on Monday morning. According to the New York Times, Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, former Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos, and Rick Gates, an ex-business associate of Manafort, were ordered to surrender to federal authorities.

The charge against Manafort and Gates were not “immediately clear”. Yet the arrests presents the first clear efforts of the five-month-long investigation into whether or not members of Trump’s campaign staff colluded with Russian officials or people associated with Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

According to the Washington Post, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty earlier this month to making a false statement to FBI investigators who asked him about his contacts with a foreigner connected to Russian officials.

Meanwhile, Manafort and Gates were charged in a 12-count indictment with “conspiracy to launder money, making false statements and other charges stemming from probes into possible Russian influence in U.S. political affairs,” the Washington Post reports.

Manafort and Gates are expected to make their first court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge this afternoon. The special counsel revealed Papadopoulos’s plea shortly after the indictment was unsealed. The Washington Post reports that Papadopouls had been “cooperating with investigators for months.”

As President Trump pointed out on Twitter, the charges against Manafort and Gates did not reference the Trump campaign. ““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 wrote.

“….Also, there is NO COLLUSION!” he said in a second tweet.

The indictment of Manafort and Gates centered around their work helping with a Russia-allied political party in Ukraine. But the Papadopoulos indictment is related to alleged efforts to set up a meeting with Russian officials while he worked on the campaign.

The special counsel claims that for nearly a decade Manafort and Gates laundered money through multiple corporations, partnerships and bank accounts, and false statements given to the Justice Department. In fact, the special counsel claims more than $75 million moved from offshore accounts.