Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort charged with conspiracy against the U.S.; former adviser pleads guilty

A former adviser for Trump has also pleaded guilty in connection to the Russia probe.
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President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman has been charged and has turned himself in to federal law enforcement officials.

Paul Manafort surrendered Monday morning after the first charges were filed in a special counsel investigation into Russia's possible interference in the 2016 presidential election, the New York Times reports.

Rick Gates – Manafort's longtime business associate – has also turned himself in to the feds.

Manafort and Gates were both indicted Friday. The men face 12 charges, including conspiracy against the U.S. and conspiracy to launder money, according to the indictment that was unsealed Monday morning

They're accused of funneling millions of dollars in payments through foreign companies and bank accounts. In total, Manafort is accused of laundering more than $18 million, while Gates is accused of transferring more than $3 million from offshore accounts into accounts he controlled. 

“Manafort used his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States without paying taxes on that income,” the indictment says. 

Both Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty to charges during a hearing Monday afternoon, CNBC reports

The indictment doesn't mention President Trump or his 2016 campaign, which FiveThirtyEight says is "big" in terms of politics.

"Trump is not really implicated in this indictment, beyond having hired two people for top campaign jobs who at best had major ethics issues and at worst committed a bunch of crimes," the publication says. 

The White House had not commented on these reports as of 9 a.m. Monday, The Associated Press says, but Trump did tweet. 

Manafort was fired as Trump's campaign chairman back in August after it was discovered he was behind a lobbying effort for pro-Russian interests in the Ukraine, the AP notes.

You can read the entire 31-page indictment here

Former campaign adviser pleads guilty

Also as part of the special counsel investigation, George Papadopolous – a former foreign policy adviser for Trump – pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 to making false statements to the FBI about contact he had with a Russian professor with "substantial connections to Russian government officials," the indictment says.

Papadopoulos is the first person to be charged in connection to the Russia probe, with FiveThirtyEight noting this is "significant, because Papadopoulos was involved in the campaign's Russia policy for a time."

Papadopoulous admitted he lied to the FBI about when he talked to the Russian professor, saying it happened before becoming one of Trump's advisers, the indictment says.

But he actually met the professor a few days after joining the campaign, with the indictment adding the professor was interested in Papadopoulos "because of his status with the campaign." 

The court documents also say Papadopolous is cooperating with U.S. officials in its investigation. 

You can read the 14- page indictment against Papadopolous here, which was unsealed Monday along with his plea agreement

Democrats call for independent investigation into Russian meddling 

Democrats quickly reacted to the indictment Monday morning, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi releasing a statement urging an independent investigation. 

"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," Pelosi said. 

Minnesota's delegation comments on indictments

Democratic Congresswoman Betty McCollum released a statement saying the charges "confirm illegal activity and unethical behavior proliferated in the president's inner circle."

McCollum also called for an "independent commission to publicly examine Russia's meddling in our election and the involvement of Trump officials."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, also a Democrat, was on CBS This Morning Monday before the indictments were unsealed. She said "even if [Manafort] is charged with something unrelated to Russia, it could just be the beginning." 

Watch her entire interview here

Democratic Rep. Tim Walz tweeted about the indictments, saying they "are a welcome reminder that our democracy is resilient." He also called on Republicans in Congress "to make clear they will not stand for any attempt to fire Mueller."

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