Ex-Trump Campaign Aide Manafort Charged in 12-Count Indictment

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by BD Calhoun, Oct 30, 2017.

  1. BD Calhoun
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    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Paul Manafort, a former campaign manager for U.S. President Donald Trump, and an associate were indicted by a federal grand jury on 12 counts including conspiracy against the United States and money laundering, the federal special counsel’s office said on Monday.

    The charges were the first arising from the investigation by Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed to look into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election campaign aimed at swaying the vote in favor of Trump.

    Manafort and Rick Gates, a business partner who served as his deputy in the Trump campaign, were charged on Friday in the District of Columbia in an indictment unsealed Monday after the two men surrendered to the FBI, the special counsel said in a statement.

    “The indictment contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts,” the statement said.

    FARA is an acronym for Foreign Agents Registration Act.

    The indictment said Manafort and Gates generated tens of millions of dollars of income from work for Ukrainian political parties and leaders and laundered money through U.S. and foreign entities to hide payments between 2006 and at least 2016.

    The two concealed their work and revenue as agents of Ukrainian political parties, it said.

    Manafort and Gates will be taken to the federal district courthouse, a FBI spokesman told Reuters.

    Lawyers for Gates and Manafort did not immediately return calls for comment.

    Manafort, 68, served the Trump campaign from June to August of 2016 before resigning amid reports that he might have received millions in illegal payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.

    Investigations into Russian links with the Trump campaign, including Mueller’s and probes by several congressional panels, have dogged Trump’s presidency since the Republican took office in January. Trump has denied any allegations of collusion with the Russians and called the probes “a witch hunt.” The Kremlin also has denied the allegations.

    U.S. intelligence agencies concluded earlier this year that Moscow interfered in the campaign, including by hacking into and releasing Democratic emails in order to try to embarrass Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

    Among other things, Mueller has been investigating Manafort’s financial and real estate dealings and his prior work for that political group, the Party of Regions, which backed former Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovich, sources have told Reuters.

    Investigators also examined potential money laundering by Manafort and other possible financial crimes, according to the sources.

    Gates was a long-time business partner of Manafort and has ties to many of the same Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs.

    Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-u...ng-charges-special-counsel-idUSKBN1CZ1KT?il=0

    The political commentators I listen to have said for months that general corruption involving the Trump team and Russian oligarchs is likely the extent of what investigators will turn up. So far, that appears to be the case. Of course, it's good that indictments are finally being issued, but it's not exactly the smoking gun in terms of proving collusion in the election.

    Kyle Kulinski of Secular Talk tweeted "When Mueller expanded the investigation beyond 'Russian meddling' to include general corruption, bribery, financial crimes, it became real."

    The article also mentions the hacked emails, but like many media outlets, they're leaving out the fact that a group of former intelligence officials dispute the hack theory. Instead, they believe a leak originating on the East Coast is more likely. The group known as VIPS also discovered the mishandling of intelligence that led to the Iraq War in 2003.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2017
  2. Snarky's Ghost
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  3. Snarky's Ghost
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    #MAGA = Many Are Getting Arrested
     
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  4. BD Calhoun
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    The Papadopoulos arrest hadn't been revealed when I posted the article, but many are saying this points to collusion.

    Here's an excerpt from an article that provides a different take on Papadopoulos's involvement:

    Similarly, the court’s “statement of the offense” on George Papadopoulos for providing false statements to the FBI contains no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion but shows bad judgment on the part of Trump’s campaign for bringing Papadopoulos aboard. Papadopoulos was such a junior foreign policy figure that his announcement as a member of Trump’s foreign policy team in March 2016 was met with this mocking Post headline: “One of Trump’s foreign policy advisers is a 2009 college grad who lists Model UN as a credential.”

    The statement goes into great detail about his efforts to court a Kremlin-connected professor, a “niece” of Putin — who was not actually his niece — and a “Russian MFA connection.” But Mueller’s court filing also shows that those contacts produced little. Papadopoulos was unable to set up the meeting between Trump and Putin in Moscow that the Russians desperately wanted — a footnote in the plea deal quotes an email between campaign officials that said “We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips.” When it became clear the Putin meeting would not happen, Papadopoulos tried to pitch himself to travel to Moscow to represent the campaign, which also never happened. In other words, Papadopoulos was a peripheral figure whose failing efforts to impress the campaign with his Russian contacts seem to have come to naught.

    Still, why bring him on in the first place? We know that in early 2016 Trump was having trouble attracting talented foreign policy advisers, but this was ridiculous. A presidential front-runner doesn’t bring people onto his foreign policy advisory team who still consider “U.S. Representative at the 2012 Geneva International Model United Nations” to be resume-worthy. This was a guy who would have a hard time landing a job as a legislative assistant on Capitol Hill, and suddenly, he’s conducting back-door diplomacy with Russian officials and doing interviews with the Russian press, in the name of the Trump campaign? What could go wrong?

    Much has been made of the professor telling Papadopoulos that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton and thousands of “emails of Clinton.” But the document does not indicate that anyone at the Trump campaign took Papadopoulos up on this. Moreover, WikiLeaks did not release “emails of Clinton” but Democratic National Committee emails — so it’s not clear that the professor’s offer was any more truthful than his introduction to Putin’s “niece.” Since Papadopoulos has been a government informant since his arrest in July, perhaps there is more to come on this front. But as former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy points out, the statement of offense seems to be more exculpatory than incriminating for Trump: If the Russians were offering Clinton emails through Papadopoulos, “that would mean Trump and his campaign had nothing to do with the acquisition of the emails” and thus had not committed a crime. Accepting “dirt” from Russian sources would have been unsavory if it happened. But that’s arguably less unsavory than the Clinton campaign paying for dirt on Trump from Russian sources.

    In other words, there’s still no more public evidence of criminal collusion with Russia than there was before charges were brought. But there is plenty of evidence that the Trump campaign had catastrophically bad judgment in choosing its most senior and junior advisers — and that Russia’s spy network sought to exploit that weakness.

    Source: http://bangordailynews.com/2017/11/...-of-trump-russia-collusion-just-bad-judgment/

     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
  5. Snarky's Ghost
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    Now Trump campaign manager Michael Flynn (who led a chant at the Republican convention in 2016 to "lock her up!!" -- meaning Hillary, of course) has been charged and is now cooperating with Mueller's investigation. Trump assures us it has nothing to do with the White House.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. BD Calhoun
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    The good, the bad and the ugly of Michael Flynn's guilty plea
    BY JONATHAN TURLEY, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 12/01/17 02:20 PM EST

    The plea agreement of Michael Flynn, the former White House national security adviser, is a case of the the good, the bad and the ugly for the Trump administration. It is an undeniably significant, though not unexpected, development in the Russia investigation. Flynn was always the most exposed of the high-ranking Trump officials and he lacked a clear defense on some of the allegations regarding his work as a foreign agent. In the famous Western “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” Clint Eastwood’s character Blondie explained the difference between a man with a defense and no defense: “You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend, those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.” Flynn had to dig for a plea but the question is whether he presents a clear and present danger to the Trump inner circle. That is far less clear.

    The good

    The coverage of the plea was immediately breathless and a bit jubilant. New York defense attorney Gerald Lefcourt announced, “It’s the beginning of the end.” CNN’s legal analyst Susan Hennessey called the charges the “slam dunk” that everyone is looking for. If so, the Russian investigation has experienced a serious downgrading. This investigation began with an allegation of criminal acts of collusion with the Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election. This is a single count of making a false statement not a count of conspiracy or computer hacking or bribery connected to the Russians.

    For Flynn, the one count of perjury was a good deal given his failure to register as a foreign agent in working for Turkey and assorted allegations of false or misleading statements. Moreover, Mueller’s people had Flynn’s son, Michael Jr., who served as his chief of staff, as leverage against him. However, for the White House, this may also have a good aspect. This is a relatively confined allegation that (like former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s alleged crimes) is centered on the actions of Flynn, not the president or his family. Washington insiders are often nailed not for the underlying scandal but their response to it.

    Flynn could well offer damaging information against higher figures, from Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner to the president himself. However, there is nothing in this indictment that offers serious support for the allegation of collusion with the Russians. Flynn lied on four occasions about conversations related to national security issues related to both Russia and Israel, including a conversation with then Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in a conversation with the FBI. The indictment indicates that Flynn discussed sanctions with Kislyak, a fact that not only contradicts his statement to the FBI but to Vice President Mike Pence. However, the White House can note that Flynn also misrepresented the meeting to the vice president and the Trump administration.

    Moreover, the interest of Kislyak in determining the position of the new administration on sanctions is not unheard of in Washington, or necessarily untoward to raise with one of the incoming national security advisers. Ambassadors are supposed to seek changes in policies and often seek to influence officials in the early stages of administrations before policies are established. Flynn’s suggestion that the Russians wait as the Trump administration unfolded its new policies is a fairly standard response of an incoming official.

    Additionally, the false statements concern the discussion of an upcoming United Nations Security Council vote on whether to condemn Israel’s building of settlements, a matter entirely unrelated to the Russian investigation and a meeting reportedly prompted by requests from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Finally, the White House will point out that Flynn resigned Feb. 13 after being confronted over his misleading statements. He lasted only 24 days before being shown the door by the Trump administration.

    The bad

    The bad in this plea is equally obvious. While the indictment of former Trump campaign chairman Manafort was comfortably removed from either the campaign or the White House, this indictment involves a high-ranking Trump aide and concerns the Russian investigation. Flynn puts the special counsel’s investigation right next to the president in terms of a secured criminal plea. The ugliest element is the timing. The lie told by Flynn occurred on Jan. 24, four days after the start of the Trump administration. This was not some casual conversation. Flynn clearly knew the risks of lying in an unfolding scandal over Russian contacts.

    It is also bad news to have a high-ranking former aide effectively under the control of the special counsel. Plea deals usually involve the waiver of other possible charges in exchange for cooperation. Flynn is a “matinee” defendant. There is little reason for prosecutors to cut a deal unless they believe that the case would be hard to prove or, more likely, the defendant has deliverables to offer the prosecution.

    The ugly

    The ugly context of the Flynn plea is also the direct work of President Trump himself. It is doubtful that there would have been any special counsel investigation had Trump not fired former FBI Director James Comey when he did. Moreover, the investigation has been fueled by Trump’s ill-considered and inappropriate statement to Comey that “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.” The pressure on Comey resulted in his creating the now famous memos sitting in Robert Mueller’s office. To make matters worse, Trump pressured cabinet members and, as reported this week, ranking members of Congress to force an end to the Russian investigation.

    Trump made the situation far worse for Flynn and himself with these overtures. He created the very narrative to be used against him in the event of a plea of this kind. It is now fair game for people to ask if Flynn lied to cover up more than an awkward meeting and whether Trump’s unprecedented efforts on Flynn’s behalf reflect deeper concerns over information in Flynn’s possession.

    In the end, these are always sad moments. While many enjoy watching public figures fall from great heights, it is an ignoble and painful moment for a man who achieved much in the public interest. To paraphrase what Clint Eastwood’s Blondie said in the film, that is the nature of scandals and war alike, in which “so many men [are] wasted so badly.”

    Source: http://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/362813-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-of-the-flynn-indictment
     
  7. Snarky's Ghost
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  8. Snarky's Ghost
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    Rachel Maddow's overview...

     
  9. BD Calhoun
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    Video's down, but I'm sure it contains Maddow's typical hyperbolic commentary. "The Trump Presidency is a Russian op, by golly!"
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
  10. BD Calhoun
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    Manafort sues Mueller, Justice Department
    BY BRANDON CARTER - 01/03/18 03:10 PM EST

    President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has filed a lawsuit challenging the authority of special counsel Robert Mueller.

    In a court filing, lawyers for Manafort argue that the order establishing Mueller's investigation is overly broad and not permitted under Justice Department regulations.

    They said the special counsel's actions are "arbirtray, capricious and not in accordance with the law" and have asked a district court to set aside "all actions" that Mueller has taken against Manafort.

    “The investigation of Mr. Manafort is completely unmoored from the Special Counsel’s original jurisdiction to investigate ‘any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,’ ” the complaint reads.
    “It has instead focused on unrelated, decade-old business dealings—specifically, Ukraine political campaign consulting activities of Mr. Manafort.”

    The lawsuit was filed against Mueller, the Justice Department and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who gave the order last year that launched the special counsel investigation.

    Manafort pleaded not guilty to multiple criminal counts in October, including conspiracy against the United States and money laundering related to his work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.

    A spokesperson for the Justice Department fired back at the suit.

    "The lawsuit is frivolous but the defendant is entitled to file whatever he wants."

    Source: http://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/367283-manafort-sues-mueller-justice-department

    This is an interesting development. I often wondered if those charges would stick because they're outside the scope of collusion. They would have been better off focusing on general corruption between the Trump team and Russia, as well as investigating charges of perjury. That's where the substance is. It would be a shame if any of them walked on a technicality.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
  11. Gabriel Maxwell

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    Paul Manafort is suing Bob Muller, Steve Bannon is calling Trump's son 'treasonous', Trump says Bannon has 'lost his mind', Bill & Hillary Clinton's home was on fire. And it's only January 3rd.

    Buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy year.

    So, his defense against the crime he committed is that the prosecutor didn't have the authority to bring the charge. Obviously, he wouldn't be doing this if he didn't think he was going to be convicted.

    As far as I've seen since the news broke, Manafort's unusual civil lawsuit (normally you'd file a motion to dismiss the indictment as part of the criminal case) has little chance of success. And even if it did succeed, another federal prosecutor could pick it up and indict Manafort for the same crime.

    Are the FBI and DOJ simply going to shrug and put away the evidence of him conducting a $75 million money laundering conspiracy while working as a Russian agent against the United States?
     
  12. BD Calhoun
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    We're probably in for 2017 on steroids.

    That's why the scope of the investigation should have extended beyond collusion. Look into that too, yes, but I'd hate to see some rich lawyer get Manafort off on charges that went beyond the scope of the investigation. That said, it is reassuring that another federal prosecutor could still pick it up if Manafort's lawsuit is successful.
     
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  13. Gabriel Maxwell

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    An opinion from Dan Abram's LAW & CRIME

    PAUL MANAFORT'S LAWSUIT IS DEAD ON ARRIVAL AND EVERYONE KNOWS IT:

    On Wednesday, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort sued the DOJ, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller in a civil lawsuit. The point of the lawsuit? If we’re being honest, not much beyond exciting up conservatives with aggressive-sounding headlines.

    The Complaint filed in federal court for the District of Columbia, requests “injunctive relief to restrict public officers to their lawful authority.” In other words, the Russia investigation has gone too far and Manafort is asking the court to order the DOJ to stand down.

    Like many lawsuits filed for the purpose of getting a court to declare someone “correct,” this one is going nowhere. Manafort’s arguments ranged from the ridiculous to the passé, and none of them will amount to a do-over of his indictment.

    Here are the top three losers, straight from the lawsuit:

    READ MORE:

    https://lawandcrime.com/uncategoriz...uit-is-dead-on-arrival-and-everyone-knows-it/
     
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  14. Snarky's Ghost
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  16. BD Calhoun
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    "Sneaky Dianne" is the same woman who said Donald Trump could be a good president if he was willing to learn and change. She's also tried gaslighting the public into believing single payer is a complete government takeover of healthcare and said she's "not there." And, of course, she supported the interventions in Libya and Iraq, as well as the Patriot Act.

    So yeah, she's not exactly altruistic. Putting aside the fact that portions of the Trump Dossier remain unverified, Feinstein had a motive for releasing the testimony. As Cenk Uygur said, she usually doesn't make these decisions unilaterally. As he pointed out, Feinstein loves secrecy and supports warantless wiretapping. So why release the testimony? Feinstein's facing a primary challenge, and was likely trying to appease progressives. But as Uygur also pointed out, she loves working with Republicans so much that she backpedaled a little. Taking heat from Republicans for potentially dissuading future witnesses from testifying, she said "The one regret I have is that I should have spoke with Senator Grassley before. And I don't make an excuse, but I've had a bad cold and maybe that slowed down my mental facilities a little bit." I'd say her mental facilities have been questionable for decades, and I hope she's voted out.

     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018 at 8:36 AM
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