Surprise, surprise. The New York Times is reporting that the first indictment in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia has been unsealed. And the target is none other than Paul Manafort, who briefly served as chief executive of the Trump campaign last summer before reports about his work for Ukraine's former leader Viktor Yanukovich forced him out. Manafor has reportedly been asked to surrender by the FBI, sparing him an embarassing perp walk.
Manafort and his former deputy Rick Gates have both been asked to surrender. The charges against the pair weren't immediately clear. But they do represent an escalation in the probe that has loomed over President Trump's first year in office.
Gates is a longtime protege and junior partner at Manafort's firm. His involvment in the probe was revealed in the spring. His name appeared in documents linked to a Cypriot firm Manafort set up to receive payments from Eastern European politicians like Yanukovich, who purportedly paid Manafort with money looted from the Ukraine state.
Manafort had been udner ivnestigaiton for violations of federal tax law, money laundering and whether he failed to properly disclose his foreign lobbying.
As we've noted, since these charges mostly stem from Manafort's work before he became involved with the campaign, they leave ample room for Trump to declare victory. Now, we watch for the administration's response.
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