CNN posted a cryptic report on Friday that Robert Mueller’s grand jury had issued its first sealed indictment(s), and that an arrest could come as early as Monday, or not. Not much more than this to the reporting.
This touched off a weekend of wild media speculation trying to confirm the CNN report, who had been indicted, and what are the charges.
Monday has arrived, and the New York Times reports that Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, and his former business associate Rick Gates, were told to surrender to the FBI on Monday. Manafort has reported to the FBI this morning. Paul Manafort, Who Once Ran Trump Campaign, Surrenders to F.B.I.:
The charges against Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, were not immediately clear but represent a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over the president’s first year in office. Also charged was Mr. Manafort’s former business associate Rick Gates, who was also told to surrender on Monday, the person said.
Mr. Manafort walked into the F.B.I.’s field office in Washington at about 8:15 a.m. with his lawyer.
Mr. Gates is a longtime protégé and junior partner of Mr. Manafort. His name appears on documents linked to companies that Mr. Manafort’s firm set up in Cyprus to receive payments from politicians and businesspeople in Eastern Europe, records reviewed by The New York Times show.
Mr. Manafort had been under investigation for violations of federal tax law, money laundering and whether he appropriately disclosed his foreign lobbying.
Attempts to reach Mr. Gates on Monday were not successful. A spokesman for Mr. Manafort did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Manafort has expected charges since this summer, when F.B.I. agents raided his home and prosecutors warned him that they planned to indict him. That warning raised speculation that Mr. Manafort might try to cut a deal to avoid prosecution.
Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Ty Cobb, said there were no concernsthat Mr. Manafort would offer damaging information about the president in exchange for a deal.
And why is that, Ty? Does he already have the promise of a presidential pardon in his back pocket? “Just keep your mouth shut and don’t say anything. I’ll pardon you when the time is right.”
Mr. Manafort, a veteran Republican strategist, joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 to help keep delegates from breaking with Mr. Trump in favor of establishment Republican candidates. Mr. Trump soon promoted him to chairman and chief strategist, a job that gave him control over day-to-day operations of the campaign.
But Mr. Trump fired Mr. Manafort just months later, after reports that he received more than $12 million in undisclosed payments from Viktor F. Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president and a pro-Russia politician. Mr. Manafort spent years as a political consultant for Mr. Yanukovych.
American intelligence agencies have concluded that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia launched a stealth campaign of hacking and propaganda to try to damage Hillary Clinton and help Mr. Trump win the election. The Justice Department appointed Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel in May to lead the investigation into the Russian operations and to determine whether anyone around Mr. Trump was involved.
The New York Times revealed in July that Mr. Manafort and others close to Mr. Trump met with Russians last year, on the promise of receiving damaging political information about Mrs. Clinton.
The Washington Post adds, Manafort and former business partner asked to surrender in connection with special counsel probe:
The precise charges the men face were not immediately clear. Gates did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort. Manafort was spotted walking into the FBI’s Washington Field Office Monday morning.
Washington — especially those in political and media circles — had been anxiously anticipating the charges since CNN reported Friday night that a grand jury had approved the first charges in Mueller’s investigation. That report was soon matched by others, including Reuters and the Wall Street Journal, though affiliates of many involved said they were in the dark as to what was about to come. About a dozen reporters staked out the entrance to the federal courthouse in downtown D.C. Monday morning, waiting for any glimpse of prosecutors or possible defendants.
Spokespeople for Mueller and the Justice Department declined to comment over the weekend. They did not immediately return messages Monday.
Prosecutors have been probing Manafort’s work as a political consultant in Ukraine, where he advised a Russia-friendly political party for years before his work with Trump. They have also been examining Manafort’s personal finances.
While the probe has focused acutely on Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, investigators have shown interest in a broad array of other topics.
Those include meetings the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow in December, and a June 2016 meeting at Trump tower involving the president’s son, Donald Jr., and a Russian lawyer. Mueller’s team has requested extensive records from the White House, covering areas including the president’s private discussions about firing James B. Comey as FBI director and his response to news that Flynn was under investigation, according to two people briefed on the requests.
Mueller is also investigating whether Trump obstructed justice leading up to Comey’s firing. His team has been actively presenting records and bringing witnesses before the grand jury in D.C. for the last three months.
Any grand jury indictment would be shared with deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who is acting as the attorney general because Jeff Sessions, having served as a surrogate for the Trump campaign, recused himself from the matter.
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FBI agents working for Mueller raided Manafort’s home in Alexandria in late July, armed with a search warrant that allowed them to enter at dawn without warning the occupants. Such an invasive search is only allowed after prosecutors have persuaded a federal judge that they have evidence of a crime and they have reasonable concern that key evidence could be destroyed or withheld.
Prosecutors also warned Manafort they planned to indict him, according to two people familiar with the exchange. Manafort associates had said Friday evening, though, they had no indication that Manafort has been or would be indicted.
Wayne Holland, a McEnearney Associates real estate agent who helped Manafort buy the condo in Alexandria, Va., that was raided by the FBI this summer, testified Oct. 20 before the grand jury in Mueller’s probe after he and his firm were unsuccessful in an effort to quash subpoenas, Holland said Friday.
Holland declined to discuss his testimony, first reported by Politico, but confirmed that an opinion unsealed Friday by Howell denied his and his firm’s motion to quash a subpoena by claiming real estate broker records are confidential under Virginia and District laws.
This is what the cable jockeys will be speculating about all day on your TV.
UPDATE: The Times now has a copy of the indictment. Paul Manafort, Who Once Ran Trump Campaign, Indicted on Money Laundering and Tax Charges:
Paul Manafort and his former business associate were indicted on Monday on money laundering, tax and foreign lobbying charges, a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over President Trump’s first year in office.
“Manafort used his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States without paying taxes on that income,” the indictment reads.
Mr. Gates is accused of transferring more than $3 million from offshore accounts. The two are also charged with making false statements.
“As part of the scheme, Manafort and Gates repeatedly provided false information to financial bookkeepers, tax accountants and legal counsel, among others,” the indictment read.