Video by Ford Fischer
Write-Up and Photos by Alejandro Alvarez
Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort was indicted by the Mueller inquiry on Monday, leading his attorney to dismiss the charges as “ridiculous” and based on “a very novel theory.”
After charges were unsealed, Manafort turned himself in at the FBI field office in Judiciary Square, where he was processed and moved to the nearby federal district courthouse for his initial hearing. He pled not guilty on 12 charges, which included conspiracy and laundering, the most severe of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Rick Gates, an associate of Manafort, was also indicted.
“There is no evidence that Mr. Manafort and the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government,” said Downing, briefly speaking to a large group of press outside the court building. “Today, you see an indictment brought by an office of special counsel that is using a very novel theory to prosecute Mr. Manafort regarding a FARA filing,” insisting that the charges, which stemmed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, were “ridiculous.” He spoke for two minutes and did not take questions.
Manafort’s charges stem from his involvement with the Ukrainian government before his role in the Trump campaign. Prosecutors allege that Manafort failed to register properly as an agent of the Ukrainian government, and additionally funneled millions of dollars through overseas accounts to live a lavish lifestyle back in the United States without paying taxes. He now faces home confinement after posting a $10 million bond. His next hearing is scheduled this Thursday.
Mueller’s first two charges did not appear to be directly connected to the Russia investigation, with no mention of alleged collusion with the Russian government in the 31-page indictment. George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser brought on by the nascent Trump campaign, also faced charges on Monday morning for allegedly making false claims to investigators over the timing and extent of his relationship with senior Russian officials. He pled guilty in an apparent deal for leniency in exchange for cooperation in Mueller’s investigation.