While President Trump had plenty to say about Paul Manafort and George Papadopoulos on Twitter today, when asked about the two men by reporters the president stayed quiet.
The president was asked about pardoning Manafort, his former campaign manager, and he didn’t respond, telling reporters ‘thank you’ instead, as the press pool was ushered out of the Roosevelt Room where Trump was meeting with business leaders to discuss tax reform.
He also refused to answer any questions about Papadopoulos.
Earlier Tuesday morning, Trump launched a furious assault on the two former campaign hands caught in the Justice Department’s crosshairs.
Trump said the charges against Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman, are tied to activities that ‘took place long before he came to the campaign.’
‘The Fake News is working overtime. As Paul Manafort’s lawyer said, there was “no collusion,”‘ Trump said, referring the special counsel’s mandate to probe election meddling.
Of a former foreign policy adviser to the campaign who turned himself in for making false statements to the feds about contact with the Russians, George Papadopoulos, Trump said: ‘Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS!’
Donald Trump launched a furious assault Tuesday morning on two former campaign hands caught in the Justice Department’s crosshairs
Trump said the charges against Paul Manafort are tied to activities that ‘took place long before he came to the campaign.’ Of a former foreign policy adviser who turned himself in for making false statements to the feds about contact with the Russians, George Papadopoulos, Trump said, he’s ‘already proven to be a liar’
A former foreign policy adviser to the campaign who turned himself in for making false statements to the feds about contact with the Russians, George Papadopoulos is being slammed by the White House as a volunteer to a committee on the campaign who had no inside knowledge or power
LAST BREATH OF FRESH AIR? Former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was placed on house arrest as a condition of his release on $10 million bond as he awaits trial on a host of financial felonies
The White House sought on Monday to put as much distance as they could between the president and campaign affiliates facing criminal charges, saying that Trump had not spoken to Manafort in months and pegging Papadopoulos as a volunteer to a committee on the campaign who had no inside knowledge or power.
Another former campaign staffer, Rick Gates, once the deputy campaign manager, was also indicted. A longtime business associate of Manafort’s, his alleged crimes are not related to the president, either.
Manafort and Gates have been confined to their homes in Virginia as they await trials on a laundry list of federal felony charges.
The pair entered not guilty pleas Monday afternoon in a federal courtroom, telling a magistrate judge that they’ll fight the Justice Department in court. Manafort lives in Alexandria, a close-in suburb of Washington. Gates resides in Richmond, more than 100 miles to the south.
Manafort, a veteran lobbyist, is now charged with conspiring against the United States and money-laundering on a gigantic scale, following an investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Along with Gates, his longtime business partner and protege, Manafort surrendered to federal authorities early on Monday as the first charges from the probe of possible Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election were unsealed.
Manafort is free on $10 million bond and Gates agreed to a $5 million bond. Both will be on ‘home detention’ as a condition of their release, and they have surrendered their passports.
They are expected back in court on Thursday.
Trump’s former campaign chairman was pictured smiling on Monday as he walked through a brisk October breeze and got into a waiting SUV.
It was not clear on Monday afternoon whether the men would have to wear ankle monitors. That kind of GPS technology is typically used in federal cases to ensure defendants don’t flee the country.
President Trump watched the specter with revulsion, waking up before dawn, the Washington Post reported, to keep tabs on Mueller’s announcement. Holed up in the residence, Trump is said to have fumed over the media’s coverage of the surprise indictments.
Trump tweeted victoriously that there was ‘NO COLLUSION’ before a second bombshell dropped: Papadopoulos had turned himself in.
The president’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, was sent out to damage control as the White House delayed a news conference with the president’s press secretary until he was finished.
When she did take the podium, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeatedly stated Papadopoulos role in the campaign had been ‘extremely limited’ in ‘a volunteer position.’
‘I’d hardly call that some sort of regular advisor or, as you want to push, that he’s like a senior member of the staff,’ she stated. ‘He was not paid by the campaign, he was a volunteer on a — again, a council that met once.’
Asked what it says about Trump’s judgement that he’d have folks like Manafort, who are facing serious charges, working on his campaign at all, Huckabee Sanders, argued, ‘These were seasoned operatives that worked on a number of campaigns. Paul Manafort was brought in to lead the delegate process, which he did, and was dismissed not too long after that.’
$5 MILLION LIGHTER: Rick Gates left court where he too was placed on home confinement as part of a multimillion-dollar bond arrangement to avoid custody as his trial approaches
DRAWN FACES: A courtroom sketch shows Manafort (standing, center) and his former protege Rick Gates (standing, right) entering their not-guilty pleas before U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson
GPS FOR PAUL? It’s not clear whether Manafort and Gates have to wear ankle monitors during their home confinement as their trials approach, but both of their right lower legs showed hints of a bulge as they left the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C.
The charges against Manafort (shown) and Gates are the first from the special counsel investigating so far unsubstantiated accusations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia
Manafort’s lawyer told reporters camped outside of the courthouse on Monday afternoon that the president ‘was correct’ that the charges that were brought were outside the scope of special counsel’s election meddling mandate.
‘There is no evidence that Mr. Manafort or the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government,’ Kevin Downing said.
The Manafort representative also said, ‘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. The United States government has only used that offense six times since 1966, and only resulted in one conviction.’
The indictment against Manafort, 68, and Gates, 45, includes 12 separate criminal counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.
The government alleges that at least $75 million was moved by Manafort to offshore accounts without declaring the income to the government. From there Manafort allegedly withdrew $18 million to fund a lavish lifestyle, and Gates is accused of pulling out another $3 million.
Monday afternoon’s preliminary hearing was before U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson.
CIRCUS: Kevin Downing, attorney for Paul Manafort, spoke to reporters after the preliminary hearing on Monday
BIG MONEY: Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort (center) turned himself in at FBI headquarters on Monday and later entered a not guilty plea in federal court
Arriving for court: Manafort was driven in the back of an SUV to the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C. just after noon on Monday
Gates’ spokesman Glenn Selig issued a strident defense of his client after his court appearance.
He said the former Trump campaign hand ‘welcomes the opportunity to confront these charges in court. He is not going to comment further until he has had a chance to review the lengthy indictment with his legal team,’ he said.
‘In the meanwhile, he would appreciate you respecting his and his family’s privacy as they weather this unexpected and hasty proceeding designed to accommodate perhaps political and press considerations rather than his right to have counsel of his choice by his side during this most troubling and challenging day for him and his loved ones. This fight is just beginning.’
An angry Trump washed his hands of Manafort on Monday morning.
‘Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign,’ Trump tweeted after the charges were unsealed. ‘But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????’
‘Also, there is NO COLLUSION!’ he insisted.
Outside court Manafort’s attorney said the millionaire lobbyist would fight the charges.
Downing said Manafort ‘represented pro-European Union campaigns’ for Ukraine and that he was ‘seeking to further democracy and to help the Ukraine come closer to the United States and the EU.’
Kevin Downing, the attorney for Paul Manafort, told reporters in a statement that ‘there is no evidence that Mr. Manafort or the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government’
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told DailyMail.com during Monday’s briefing that Trump and Manafort ‘haven’t spoken in several months. The last known conversation was back all the way to February’
President Trump pounced on Monday, denying Manafort’s alleged crimes predated his campaign and insisting that he never colluded with Russia to affect the 2016 election
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has brought its first criminal charges and yielded three arrests – including one low-level guilty plea
‘The second thing about this indictment that I myself find most ridiculous is a claim that maintaining offshore accounts to bring all your funds into the United States as a scheme to conceal from the United States government is ridiculous,’ he said.
Downing then walked away from a media stake-out site without taking any questions.
The defendants’ surrender to the FBI in the morning was followed by a dramatic announcement that one of Trump’s campaign foreign policy advisers, George Papadopoulos, had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with Russians who promised ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton and access to ‘thousands’ of her emails.
Papadopoulos secretly agreed to a plea bargain earlier this month, suggesting he may be cooperating with Mueller.
Monday morning’s events will raise questions about what happens next and whether Manafort and Gates could follow suit.
Manafort was involved with the Trump campaign for nearly five months, in senior positions that gave him access to the day-to-day operations of the future president’s political operation.
Trump’s lawyer, Ty Cobb, told reporters on Monday that he had no concern about Manafort offering damaging information about the president in exchange for a deal.
Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant, said in September that Manafort has no information that could put the president in legal jeopardy, predicting that ‘he’s not going to lie.’
The possible sentences, if found guilty, would be stiff: up to 80 years in prison for Manafort and 70 for Gates, plus millions of dollars in fines.
More typical federal sentencing for the crimes charged would be 10 to 12.5 years for Gates and 12.5 to 15 for Manafort.
Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said Monday on CNN that regardless of Manafort’s legal woes, ‘there is not a formal investigation of the President of the United States.’
Trump hasn’t been asked to testify or answer questions for the special counsel, he said, but ‘the president said he would’ if asked.
‘We have been cooperating,’ Sekulow said. ‘If there’s questions that come from the special counsel’s office, we’ve been in full cooperation mode.’
But the charges pending against Manafort, 68, and Gates, 45, are related to ‘business activities, not campaign activities,’ he said.
The indictment includes 12 separate criminal counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.
Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said Monday on CNN that regardless of Manafort’s legal woes, ‘there is not a formal investigation of the President of the United States’
Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, shown at left during the Republican National Convention, faces charges along with Manafort and has also pleaded not guilty
Guilty: George Papadopoulos is facing up to six months in prison. He was a foreign policy adviser to Trump who admits lying to the FBI about contact with Russians who offered dirt on Hillary Clinton and thousands of her emails
The government alleges that at least $75 million was moved by Manafort to offshore accounts without declaring the income to the government. From there Manafort allegedly withdrew $18 million to fund a lavish lifestyle, and Gates pulled another $3 million out.
A source close to the White House told CNN that ‘today has zero to do with the White House.’
HOW MANAFORT SPENT HIS MILLIONS
Monday morning’s indictment lists a host of lavish expenses that ate up millions from Paul Manafort’s alleged offshore accounts, including:
- $5.43 million for home improvement in the Hamptons
- $1.31 million for home improvement in Florida for ‘home automation, lighting and home entertainment’
- $934,000 at an antique rug store
- $849,000 at a men’s clothing store in New York
- $819,000 for two landscapers in The Hamptons
- $623,000 on antiques in New York
- $520,000 at a Beverly Hills clothing store
- $163,700 for payments on three Range Rovers
- $62,000 on a Mercedes Benz
- $31,900 at a Florida art gallery
- $20,000 on New York housekeepers
Trump’s defiant tweet, and his reference to Clinton who faces her own claims of receiving dirty Russian money, sets the stage for a showdown with Mueller which led on Monday morning to Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, calling for legislative moves to prevent the special counsel from being fired.
The indictment is purely focused on alleged financial crimes and does not include any charges related to the broader question that formed the basis of Mueller’s investigation – whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russia to swing the 2016 election in his favor.
It describes criminal allegations that predate the Trump campaign; Trump’s name is not mentioned in the 31-page document.
The move to indict the two men represents a dramatic turn in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Manafort was seen leaving his home at 8:00 a.m. with his attorney and arrived at FBI headquarters less than 20 minutes later.
A federal grand jury approved the indictments on Friday and a judge ordered them sealed. A White House official told DailyMail.com on Monday that the administration may not comment at all on the arrests.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who was appointed by former president Barack Obama and confirmed in the Senate by a 97-0 vote.
Among the expenses paid for by Manafort-controlled entities in Cyprus, according to the indictment, were $600,000 for antiques and $500,000 paid to a Beverly Hills tailor and $849,000 to a men’s clothing store in New York.
Other money went for premium automobiles and home renovations in Florida and the Hamptons. The Hamptons home alone had $5.4 million in renovations, the indictment said.
Hand them over: The indictment demands that Manafort be stripped of two New York city properties, a SoHo loft (left) and Brooklyn brownstone (right), as well as a Hamptons home which he lavished more than $5 million on in renovations, and an Arlington, VA, condo
Manafort also spent $934,350 at an antique rug store in Alexandria, Virginia.
The indictment demands that four of his properties are seized, including a Brooklyn brownstone he bought to renovate, a loft in New York’s trendy SoHo which he let out on Airbnb, a Hamptons home and his Arlington, Virginia condo.
Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said in a statement that the indictment ‘underscores the seriousness of the investigation into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia. It’s time for Republicans to commit to protecting this investigation and preserving the rule of law.’
In a separate statement, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said the charges demonstrated the necessity of keeping congressional investigations running alongside the Mueller probe.
‘Even with an accelerating Special Counsel investigation inside the Justice Department, and investigations inside the Republican Congress, we still need an outside, fully independent investigation to expose Russia’s meddling in our election and the involvement of Trump officials,’ she said.
‘Defending the integrity of our democracy demands that Congress look forward to counter Russian aggression and prevent future meddling with our elections.’
Manafort and Gates were the one-two punch responsible for keeping Republican National Convention delegates in line last year as the possibility emerged of a contentious floor fight over the presidential nomination.
Then-candidate Donald Trump first Manafort after reports that he pocketed at least $12 million in undisclosed payments from Viktor Yanukovych (pictured), the pro-Russia former Ukrainian president.
Manafort was fired shortly after the convention and replaced by pollster Kellyanne Conway, but Gates stayed on and was more recently working to help close out the financial books of Trump’s inaugural committee.
He had worked for Manafort’s international firm, Davis Manafort Partners, from 2006 to 2007.
The move to throw Manafort overboard came after reports that Manafort pocketed at least $12 million in undisclosed payments from Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russia former Ukrainian president.
Manafort and his firm, which Gates helped run, spent years as Yanukovych’s political consultants.
The Justice Department’s indictment charges that Manafort and Gates ‘generated tens of millions of dollars in income as a result of their Ukraine work.’
‘In order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities, 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,’ it continues.
Mueller’s probe focused on wire transfers Manafort made from Ukraine to private accounts and whether he paid taxes on that income.
Kevin Downing, Manafort’s lawyer, was formerly a prosecutor in the Justice Department’s criminal tax division.
In July the FBI in July executed a surprise search warrant with guns drawn at Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Virginia, seizing financial and tax documents.
Headed to a judge: Paul Manafort was driven by his lawyer on Monday morning to turn himself in to Mueller
It’s unclear if Manafort is the biggest fish in Mueller’s sights, or if the former FBI director intends to squeeze him for information more directly related to the 2016 election and Russia’s possible interference with it.
The Russia investigation has cast a shadow over President Donald Trump’s nine-month-old presidency and widened the partisan rift between Republicans and Democrats.
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in January that Russia interfered in the election to try to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton by hacking and releasing embarrassing emails and disseminating propaganda via social media to discredit her.
Mueller is also investigating whether Trump campaign officials colluded with those Russian efforts.
Trump tweeted Monday morning about a report that Barack Obama’s campaign organization funneled nearly $1 million to the law firm that served as a pass-through last year between Democrats and an opposition research firm that produced the salacious and discredited ‘dirty dossier’ on the president.
Manafort hid his face from reporters who were staking out his house in Alexandria, Virginia as he left to turn himself in at the FBI’s headquarters
‘Report out that Obama Campaign paid $972,000 to Fusion GPS. The firm also got $12,400,000 (really?) from DNC. Nobody knows who OK’d!’ the president tweeted on Monday.
That tweet came a half-hour before news broke that Manafort and Gates had been indicted. The White House hasn’t yet commented on their surrender.
Trump has denied the allegations of collusion with the Russians and called the probe ‘a witch hunt.’ The Kremlin also has denied the allegations.
Mueller, a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has been looking into possible links between Trump aides and foreign governments, as well as potential money laundering, tax evasion and other financial crimes, according to sources familiar with the probe. He also is exploring whether Trump or his aides have tried to obstruct the investigation.
Mueller was appointed to lead the investigation a week after Trump’s May 9 firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was heading a federal probe into possible collusion with Russia.
Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn could also face charges later related to his contacts with Russian officials
Master of distraction: A half-hour before Manafort’s indictment was unsealed, President Trump tweeted about an alleged money-funnel between Democrats and the opposition research firm behind the discredit ‘dirty dossier’ about him
Trump initially said he fired Comey because his leadership of the FBI was inadequate.
In a later interview with NBC, he cited ‘this Russia thing’ as his reason.
On Sunday, Trump tried to shift the focus back to Democrats and Clinton, tweeting that the Russia issue was being used to sidetrack the Republican push for tax reform and praising Republican ‘anger and unity’ on the need to look into whether Democrats and the Clinton campaign paid for a portion of a dossier that detailed accusations about Trump’s ties to Russia.
Special White House counsel Ty Cobb said the president’s tweets were ‘unrelated to the activities of the Special Counsel, with whom he continues to cooperate.’
Investigators led by Mueller have interviewed former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, former spokesman Sean Spicer and other current and former White House and campaign officials.
In July, FBI agents raided Manafort’s Virginia home; his financial and real estate dealings and prior work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine have been a focus of Mueller’s team.