The Manafort Indictment
President Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and Manafort's business associate, Rick Gates, were indicted on Monday as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. But despite Manafort's one-time role with the Trump campaign, the 12 charges brought Monday have very little to do with Trump or Russian collusion.
Manafort stands accused of massive financial crimes, including tax evasion, money laundering, fraud, false statements, and "conspiracy against the United States." The charge closest to the Russia investigation is acting as an "unregistered agent of a foreign principal." According to the indictment, Manafort and Gates "knowingly and willfully, without registering with the attorney general as required by law, acted as agents of a foreign principal, to wit, the Government of Ukraine, the Party of Regions, and [pro-Moscow Ukrainian politician Viktor] Yanukovych."
Manafort spent more than 10 years working for political organizations in Ukraine, which involved forging a close relationship with Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine, who was a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Yanukovych was ousted in 2014 and fled to Russia. Manafort also signed a $10 million annual contract in 2006 with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to Putin, and routed that money through Cyprus, a scheme detailed in the indictment.
Still, critics of the Trump administration hoping for damning evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin will come away empty handed — at least for now. Extensive FBI investigations historically follow a particular pattern, which includes circling inward from "peripheral figures first," Wired notes, and then encouraging them to cooperate in exchange for leniency.