Whether the president likes it or not, the Russia investigation is continuing now that 2018 has dawned. There have been no new charges brought against any current or former members of the Trump team since the new year started, but going into 2018, four former associates of the president have so far faced charges.
Two of those to face charges, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, pleaded not guilty and are currently on house arrest awaiting trial on charges including money laundering.
On Friday, the office of Special Counsel for the Russia investigation Robert Mueller made court filings with a number of noteworthy bits of information.
To start out with, Mueller’s office requested a trial date of May 14, but that’s not where the filings end. The filings also reveal just how much potential evidence against Manafort and Gates has so far been collected by Mueller’s team, and the amount that Mueller’s office reported as having obtained is significantly larger than the amount revealed the last time that they made a similar report.
As The Washington Post reports, back on December 8 of last year, prosecutors revealed that they had given both Manafort and Gates “some 400,000 items, including contents of 36 memory devices, and disclosed 15 warrants.”
This time around, Mueller’s team revealed that it “had turned over more than 590,000 records to Gates, among them emails, financial and corporate records — including 2,200 designated by prosecutors as ‘hot’ or high-priority — and copies of information on 87 electronic devices such as laptops and phones collected through 19 search warrants.”
According to the Post, 35 of the seized electronic devices were taken from Manafort’s home, where the FBI executed a surprise early morning search warrant last year.
Prosecutors noted that they are only keeping Gates in the loop about evidence that has been collected and is relevant to his case and only keeping Manafort in the loop about evidence related to his case.
The two of them cooperated in an alleged broad money laundering scheme involving millions garnered from lobbying work for the pro-Russia Ukrainian political party known as the Party of Regions. They worked for the now former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who fled his country for Russia in 2014 and remains wanted in the Ukraine.
As mentioned, Manafort and Gates have contested the charges against them. Recently, Manafort’s team filed a lawsuit alleging that Special Counsel Mueller had overstepped the bounds of his authority in bringing charges against the former Trump associates.
Manafort, of course, isn’t alone in his attempts to discredit Mueller; his former boss, President Donald Trump, nearly continuously behaves in the same way even though, as president, he should respect law and order.
Trump has also sought to downplay the significance of the charges against Manafort, even though their existence means that the man who is now president had a man leading his campaign at one point who was connected to pro-Russia interests in Europe through money laundering.
That puts the country in a bad situation and yet the president continues to insist that there’s “nothing to see here.”
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