JoAnna Mitchell, Staff Reporter
An investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller has produced its first charges against several individuals connected with the Trump campaign on Monday, October 30. This is the first official confirmation that someone involved with President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign turned to Russia to obtain damaging information on his opponent Hillary Clinton.
George Papadopoulos, foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his meetings with an individual believed to have “had substantial connections to Russian government officials.” The investigation unearthed that this individual, a professor, offered him thousands of emails by and about Clinton.
Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman, and his associate Rick Gates were also indicted on charges of money laundering and illegally working with pro-Russian factions in the Ukraine. Both supplied a not guilty plea and were placed under house arrest. The bond for Manafort was set at $10 million and $5 million for Gates.
Manafort has been charged with 9 counts of conspiracy, money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent, making false statements and failing to disclose foreign banking activity. Gates received 8 counts on the same charges. They could spend up to 40 years in prison and face millions of dollars in fines.
Both individuals were revealed to have used their illegally earned income to live lavishly, without paying taxes. One report from the New York Times estimates that Manafort spent over $800,000 on luxury clothing over a 6-year period, while Gates is alleged to have spent a good portion of his money on redecorating his home and paying for his children’s tuition.
Mueller has notified the White House that six more aides close to the president will be sought for questioning including former press secretary Sean Spicer and former chief of staff Reince Priebus.
President Trump tweeted about the indictments, in an apparent attempt to shift focus to his former opponent: “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t crooked Hillary and the Dems the focus?????”
In another tweet, Trump reiterated his denial of any connections between him and Moscow: “Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”