Former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates have been charged with money laundering, while ex-adviser George Papadopoulos cut a plea deal for lying about Russia-linked contacts.
While Manafort and Gates entered “not-guilty” pleas before a Federal court on 12-counts charged the men with money laundering, making false statements and other crimes, we learned that Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to Trump’s campaign, cut a secret plea deal earlier this month for lying to the FBI about the campaign’s outreach to Russia-related officials.
The document describes a series of conversations and meetings with contacts who he understood to have connections to the Kremlin about obtaining “dirt” on Hillary Clinton and setting up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
While the charges filed against Manafort and Gates do not directly tie in to Special Prosecutor Bob Mueller’s investigation into allegations that the Trump campaign worked with the Russian government to throw the 2016 Presidential election to Trump, Papadopolous has plead guilty to lying about his contacts with Russia on behalf of the Trump campaign.
While the Manafort and Bates indictments drew the media spotlight, observers say the Popadopolous plea bargain is of far more immediate import, as it lets Manafort and Bates (and other as-of-yet unindicted players) know that the Special Prosecutor has a cooperating witness who knows where the bodies are buried. It is a clear indication that Mueller is crafting a case that he believes will lead to the Oval Office itself.