With the start of the new year underway, Donald Trump has continued to maintain his tendency to make headlines through controversial comments. The president has had the media in a frenzy since the start of January, calling impoverished nations sh*tholes, fighting with former advisor and colleague Steve Bannon, and continuing his childish responses against North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un via Twitter. With a recent bombshell book, Fire and Fury, detailing the instabilities of the administration, as well as the mental capabilities of the president himself, concerns regarding Trump’s position in office have increased exponentially.
Amid the abundance of ongoing controversy, Robert Mueller’s continuing Russia investigation is moving into some very critical phases of the process. In doing so, on Friday Mueller’s court filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia requested a set trial date for May 14, to prosecute former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, as well as business associate Richard Gates, both of whom were involved in the interactions with Russia during the campaign.
Mueller’s looking to start the Manafort & Gates trial in mid-May. So anyone telling you the Trump-Russia scandal isn’t gonna be ongoing into 2019 (@realDonaldTrump) is lying to you. More indictments surely to come from the Papadopoulos & Flynn guilty pleas. Good luck in 2018 GOP!
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) January 12, 2018
Mueller’s investigation charged Manafort and Gates on allegations of money laundering and tax fraud last October, stemming from evidence that the special counsel’s team has found in the ongoing inquiry. According to an article published by Reuters, “Manafort is charged with conspiring to launder money and failing to register as a foreign agent working on behalf of the government of Ukraine’s former pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych.” Thus far, both Manafort and Gates have refuted the claims of collusion, and maintain their not guilty plea in regards to the aforementioned charges.
Mueller prosecutors have produced in discovery 2,200 "hot" documents, as well as copies of 87 electronic devices and 19 search/seizure warrants, per court filing in Manafort/Gates case. pic.twitter.com/IMtmbwnglA
— erica orden (@eorden) January 12, 2018
Although the 31-page indictment that was filed by the Mueller team in October does not implicate Manafort’s collusion with Russia during the election campaign specifically, it does refer to the former campaign chair’s long-lasting and profitable relationship as an outspoken defender of Russia in Washington. The indictment relates to an attempt by Manafort and Gates to hide their work for pro-Russian elements, which has led to the charge of money laundering to the tune of roughly $75 million in payments received. According to the document, after receiving payment for promoting Ukrainian officials, Manafort and Gates attempted to hide the compensation from the United States.
After a court hearing at the end of November, Mueller’s team reached bail agreements for both men, with Manafort’s amounting to $11 million and a separate $5 million deal for Gates. Given the ongoing nature of the investigation and case, and as part of the bail agreements, both Manafort and Gates have remained under house arrest since the indictment took place.
Manafort and Gates are just two of the latest Trump colleagues that have been directly charged as a result of Mueller’s investigation. In November, former national security adviser Mike Flynn plead guilty plead guilty in regards to the contacts he made with foreign nationals. Additionally, former Trump campaign foreign policy aide George Papadopoulos also entered a guilty plea for upon the charges of lying to the FBI.
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