U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has been indicted on several charges, including conspiracy against the United States, as part of the first charges into the probe of possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Manafort, along with a former business associate, Rick Gates, surrendered to federal officials in Washington on Monday to face 12 charges in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential co-ordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Manafort, 68, served the Trump campaign from June to August of 2016 before resigning amid reports he may have received millions in illegal payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.
Manafort resigned on Aug. 19, 2016 a day after media reports suggested confidential emails from Manafort’s firm revealed a contradiction to his claims that he had never lobbied on behalf of Ukrainian political figures in the U.S.
Trump praised Manafort as a “true professional” following the former chairman’s resignation.
As the Associated Press reported at the time, emails between Gates and the lobbying firm Mercury LLC showed that Manafort’s firm directly orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine’s then-ruling political party.
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Neither Manafort nor Gates registered as a foreign agent for their lobbying work, which is required under federal law.
In July of this year, the FBI carried out a pre-dawn raid on Manafort’s home just outside of Washington, after he had met with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
In June, Bloomberg reported Ukrainian prosecutors said they found no proof of illicit payments to Manafort after the New York Times reported on ledgers showing $12.7 million in undisclosed payments between 2007 and 2012.
“There were no Manafort signatures on any page of this ledger,” the news agency quoted prosecutor Nazar Kholodnytskyi as saying at the time.
Manafort had denied any wrongdoing saying his work “was totally open and appropriate.”
Manafort was also present during a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in New York between a Kremlin-linked lawyer and Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner. The three men met Natalia Veselnitskaya after apparently being told she could provide them with salacious information about Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
The former campaign chairman had also denied he knowingly met with Russian operatives.
Both Manafort and Gates were indicted on charges of conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.
According to the Associated Press, Manafort recently registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for parts of Ukrainian work that occurred in Washington. The filing came retroactively, a tacit acknowledgment that he operated in Washington in violation of the federal transparency law.
Both men pleaded not guilty on Monday.
–The Associated Press contributed to this report.