Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has surrendered to Federal authorities after being indicted on charges including money laundering and tax evasion. He and Rick Gates (a former business partner of Manafort) are facing 12 serious counts of washing money received from Ukrainian sources and setting up companies to give himself access to a suspected 18 million dollars.
“Mr. Manafort had been under investigation for violations of federal tax law, money laundering and whether he appropriately disclosed his foreign lobbying,” according to the New York Times.
Manafort was aware of likely charges being brought as far back as the summer when the FBI raided his home in a search for evidence. He was warned at the time by prosecutors that charges would be filed. The media assumed that charges against Manafort would be used to leverage information against the Trump administration; this has failed to happen.
In fact, President Trump publicly fired Manafort after it emerged that he had done lobbying work for organizations connected with the Russian government.
Yet despite the lack of connection to President Trump, many in the media are already “doom saying” in response to the charges. Politico says:
“The indictment of two figures central to Trump’s 2016 election mark the most significant step yet in an investigation that has dogged Trump’s presidency, even as he has repeatedly dismissed the probe as a “witch hunt.” The implications for Trump’s fledgling policy agenda are potentially catastrophic, as the cloud of Russia allegations only darkens, despite the White House’s insistence that nothing will ultimately come of the federal and congressional probes.”
This kind of talk is being swiftly rebuffed by the White House. Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway told Fox: “Whatever happens today with the Mueller investigation, we don’t even know that it has anything to do with the campaign, what happens today.”
Social media has begun buzzing with poignant questions regarding the scope of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. What was ostensibly convened to be an investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election has spiraled out into a wide net encompassing a “dirt gathering” exercise on all those who have been associated with the President.
The media are however being uncharacteristically careful in making pronouncements regarding any involvement with the Trump campaign. The charges mostly cover periods up to an including 2014, which was well before the President even began a campaign. In fact, the only mention of recent charges is for lying to authorities regarding prior crimes.
Mark is a political writer and journalist who has worked on campaigns for Brexit.