“President” Donald Trump may have had a grand old time at CPAC; however, we can only imagine how he’s feeling after a newly unsealed indictment revealed explosive charges made regarding his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Additionally, Manafort’s business associate and former aide to the Trump campaign Rick Gates pleaded guilty Friday, prompting many to believe he is cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller for leniency.
In the new indictments, charges were made that Manafort paid off a group of European politicians. Those European politicians acted as if they were independent analysts. CNBC reported:
‘The indictment accuses Manafort of paying the former politicians, informally known as the “Hapsburg group,” to appear to be “independent” analysts when in fact they were paid lobbyists. Some of the covert lobbying took place in the U.S.’
Manafort is accused of paying them over 2 million euros.
Specifically, those lobbyists were lobbying for the interests of the pro-Russia government of Ukraine, according to Reuters.
Shortly before the indictment was unsealed, prosecutors were at Gates’ hearing and told the judge more about the charges made against Manafort and Gates.
‘Weissmann offered some new details about the lobbying Manafort and Gates allegedly did for Ukraine. The prosecutor said that in 2012 and 2013 the men “secretly retained” a group of former European officials to make statements favorable to Ukraine’s Party of Regents.
‘Weissmann said the ex-officials lobbied U.S. members of Congress, executive branch officials and their staffs-activities that should have been reported at the time under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.’
The indictment described Manafort’s scheme.
‘MANAFORT explained in an “EYES ONLY” memorandum created in or about June 2012 that hte purpose of the “SUPER VIP” effort would be to “assemble a small group of high-level European highly influencial [sic] champions and politically credible friends who can act informally and without any visible relationship with the Government of Ukraine.” The group was managed by a former European hancellor, Foreign Politician A, in cooridination with MANAFORT. As explained by MANAFORT, a nongonvermental agency would be created to retain this group but it would act “at our quiet direction.” In or about 2013, Foreign Politician A and other former politicians from the group lobbied United States Members of Congress, officials in the Executive Branch, and their staffs in coordination with MANAFORT, Gates, Company A, and Company B.’
The indictment also revealed Manafort is being accused of being an unregistered agent of a foreign government between the years of 2006 and 2015. It also indicated Manafort avoided paying taxes on the money he made through his work with Ukraine.
‘In furtherance of the scheme, MANAFORT used his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States, without paying taxes on that income …
‘In total, more than $75,000,000 flowed through these offshore accounts. MANAFORT, with the assistance of Gates, laundered more than $30,000,000, income that he concealed from the United States Department of the Treasury (Treasury), the Department of Justice, and others.’
It also went into great detail about the scheme that involved the European politicians.
‘… MANAFORT, with the assistance of Gates and others, engaged in a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign in the United States at the direction of Yanukovych, the Party of Regions, and the Government of Ukraine.’
How Trump didn’t know what Manafort was up to is beyond anyone. How could he not know he had a foreign agent operating as his campaign chairman? Of course, the White House is trying to avoid acknowledging Manafort’s utter existence at this point. White House spokesperson Mercedes Schlapp commented:
‘This indictment has nothing to do with the White House or the president. As you know, we have been cooperative with the special counsel. As we continue to see, there’s no evidence of collusion, no evidence of wrongdoing.’
The indictment may not reveal any evidence of collusion at this point; however, Trump had this guy working on his campaign as the chairman. It’s a big deal.
Featured image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.