WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump misstated the reach of the indictment against his former campaign chairman Monday, claiming it deals with activities “years ago,” before he was running for president. Actually, some of the criminal behavior alleged in the charges is as recent as the early days of his presidency.
TRUMP tweet: “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign.”
THE FACTS: Not true, according to the indictment.
Manafort and his associate Rick Gates are charged with criminal activities that go back to 2006 but extend to February of this year. The charges do not refer to Manafort’s activities with the campaign but rather accuse him of laundering money and conspiratorial acts before, during and after he had that job.
Manafort and Gates face 12 counts and do deal largely with activities from 2006 to 2015, before Manafort joined the campaign in March 2016.
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But both are charged with conspiring together and with others to knowingly and intentionally defraud and commit crimes against the U.S. from 2006 to this year.
And both are charged with conspiring together to make false statements and conceal crimes against the U.S., and to causing others to do so, from November 2016 to February 2017.
The indictment alleges that Manafort and Gates acted as unregistered agents of Ukraine’s former pro-Russia leader, government and party from 2006 to 2015. The indictment says that “from approximately 2006 through at least 2016, MANAFORT and GATES laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts.”
Manafort was hired in late March 2016 as the campaign’s manager for the Republican convention in July. He was promoted to campaign chairman in mid-May, more than a month after he essentially assumed control, then pushed out Aug. 19 when questions intensified about his lobbying for Ukraine interests.
This indictment is the first to emerge from the broad investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. It does not go to the heart of that matter.
But separately, it was revealed Monday that an adviser to Trump’s campaign pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian professor who has close ties to the Russian government. George Papadopoulos had told the FBI that his interactions with the professor, who promised “dirt” on Trump’s presidential rival Hillary Clinton, came before he joined the campaign. In fact, Papadopoulos was already a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign when he met the professor in mid-March 2016 and interacted with him after, according to the court statement unsealed Monday.
That was the first criminal count that cites interactions between someone in the Trump campaign Russian intermediaries.
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