He played a key role in Trump’s rise to power. Manafort allegedly served as middleman between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in 2015 and 2016. The charges against him and a business partner, Rick Gates, bring allegations of criminal activity into Trump’s inner circle for the first time.
The 12-count indictment with conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money and making false statements enhances Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s reputation for “shock and awe” tactics.
The charges strengthen the notion that the president collaborated with Russia to gain the presidency and give lie Trump’s claim that the Russa investigation is a“hoax.”More than any other person who could have been indicted, Manafort can testify about Trump’s Russia connections.
The charges against Manafort concern alleged tax fraud and money laundering, not any actions related to the 2016 campaign, but they will increased pressure on Manafort to become a witness against his former boss. Mueller is known to be investigating the June 2016 meeting as part of a possible obstruction of justice case.
Trump fired Manafort in August after reports that he received more than $12 million in undisclosed payments from Viktor F. Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president and a pro-Russia politician. But Gates, his business partner and protégé, continued to play a role, according to the Post. Gates directed the inauguration plans, including fundraising, under Tom Barrack, Trump’s close friend and adviser.
Now facing a criminal trial that might result in a long prison term, Manafort must choose between his loyalty to Trump and his own self-interest. The evidence has culminated in charges of criminal activity in the entourage of the president of the United States.