The Manafort Indictment
February 20, 2018

When Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged Paul Manafort with financial crimes and conspiracy against the U.S. last fall, the indictment said that President Trump's former campaign chairman laundered $18 million and used the untaxed income to support his lavish lifestyle. But actually, "federal law enforcement officials have identified more than $40 million in 'suspicious' financial transactions to and from companies controlled by" Manafort, most of them flagged during an unsuccessful anti-kleptocracy effort in 2014 and 2015, BuzzFeed News reports.

The previous legwork by the FBI and Treasury Department's financial crimes unit "explains how the special counsel was able to swiftly bring charges against Manafort for complex financial crimes dating as far back as 2008," BuzzFeed says, "and it shows that Mueller could still wield immense leverage as he seeks to compel Manafort to cooperate in the ongoing investigation," as erstwhile partner Rick Gates appears to be doing. The FBI interviewed Manafort in 2014, but Justice Department leaders reportedly decided Manafort's apparent financial fraud was small potatoes compared with that of his longtime client Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. "We had him in 2014," one former official said of Manafort. "In hindsight, we could have nailed him then."

From 2004 and 2014, eight banks filed 23 "suspicious activity reports" on accounts controlled by Manafort, and among those not included in Mueller's indictment are $5 million to and from Puerto Rican firm Maho Films Investment Co., where Manafort was one of two directors, and several smaller transactions that fraud investigators suspected might be pitched to avoid automatic fraud alerts, including two back-to-back $7,500 ATM withdrawals and an odd spending spree at a drug store: Officials at Wachovia "flagged $25,000 in 'fraudulent charges' at Duane Reade stores in New York City in September 2007," BuzzFeed reports. "Bank officials said the debit card was in Manafort's possession during that time." Read more about Manafort's financial history at BuzzFeed News. Peter Weber

December 15, 2017

President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has at long last managed to convince a U.S. District Court judge to allow him to leave the Virginia condominium where he's been serving his detention in favor of staying in his home in Palm Beach Garden, Florida, The Washington Post's Spencer Hsu reports. Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates were indicted in October as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Manafort stands accused of massive financial crimes, including tax evasion, money laundering, fraud, false statements, and "conspiracy against the United States."

In early December, Manafort reached an $11 million bail agreement by pledging four properties — the Virginia condo and Florida house, as well as a Manhattan condo and a home in Bridgehampton, New York. (His Trump Tower apartment was apparently not valuable enough to make the cut.) But life in Florida will follow strict guidelines, seeing as Mueller's team views Manafort as a serious flight risk. For one, Manafort must "stay away from transportation facilities, including airports, train station, bus stations, and private airports," the documents stipulate.

Manafort additionally must obtain permission from the court for "any other domestic travel" and is "subject to electronic GPS monitoring," the judge ordered. He also has a curfew of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., which is stricter even than what is recommended for most high schoolers. As "teen parenting expert and clinical psychologist" Jerry Weichman recommends to, "For juniors, [a curfew] between 11 and midnight, and between midnight and 1 a.m. for seniors."

Read the full documents below. Jeva Lange

November 2, 2017

Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, and his deputy, Rick Gates, made their first court appearance Thursday in front of the judge in charge of their case, and she quickly scolded Manafort's attorney.

The attorney, Kevin Downing, spoke to the media after Manafort was indicted on Monday, and Judge Amy Berman Jackson reminded him Thursday, "This is a criminal trial, not a public relations campaign." Manafort and Gates have been indicted on 12 counts, including conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts; both pleaded not guilty and have been under house arrest since turning themselves in on Monday.

Downing asked Berman Jackson for Manafort's monitoring device to be removed, but it's not likely that will happen — court documents unsealed earlier this week state that prosecutors see Manafort and Gates as flight risks, and Manafort has registered an email and phone number using an alias and had three separate U.S. passports with different numbers. If found guilty, both men face more than 10 years in prison. Catherine Garcia

November 1, 2017

Court documents unsealed on Tuesday reveal that Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, registered a phone and email address earlier this year under a false name, went abroad with that phone, and had three United States passports with different numbers.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team believed Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, were flight risks and likely to destroy evidence once they found out criminal charges had been filed, and on Oct. 27, prosecutors requested that the indictment against them be sealed until at least one was in custody. The pair, who surrendered on Monday, have been indicted on 12 counts, including charges of money laundering and making false statements to the Justice Department.

Both have strong ties to Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs, and in new court papers filed Tuesday, Mueller's office argued that Manafort and Gates "pose a risk of flight based on the serious nature of the charges, their history of deceptive and misleading conduct, the potentially significant sentences the defendants face, the strong evidence of guilt, their significant financial resources, and their foreign connections." Manafort and Gates are under house arrest until their next court date, set for Nov. 2. Catherine Garcia

October 31, 2017

On Monday, we learned that President Trump's former campaign aide George Papadopoulos was arrested in July and charged with making false statements about his attempts to get "dirt" on Hillary Clinton via a Russian contact. Papadopoulos has cooperated with federal officials since then, leading to speculation that he may have worn a wire.

On Tuesday, former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo argued on CNN that Papadopoulos' import on the campaign team has been wildly overblown. "He was the coffee boy! I mean, you might have called him a 'foreign policy analyst,'" Caputo told host Chris Cuomo, "but in fact, you know, if he was going to wear a wire, all we'd know now is whether he prefers a caramel macchiato over a regular American coffee in conversations with his barista. He had nothing to do with the campaign, and all this contact with Russians is something completely beyond the scope of his volunteer duties."

Papadopoulos was indeed only a volunteer, though Trump himself knew who he was — at least, enough to call him an "excellent guy" in a Washington Post interview — by March of 2016. Watch the interview clip below. Bonnie Kristian

October 31, 2017

Everybody wants to know what Special Counsel Robert Mueller has up his sleeve now, after his indictments were unsealed against President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, on Monday. A guilty plea from George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser Trump now dismisses as "a young, low level volunteer named George," was also revealed. Former federal prosecutors are probably better at reading Mueller's tea leaves than most.

With the unsealed Papadopoulos plea deal, Mueller "knows he's sending messages to at least three or four other operatives and their lawyers that he's got somebody in his corner who could be damaging to their interests," Randall Samborn, a senior aide on a George W. Bush-era special counsel investigation, told Politico. Mueller is "moving quickly" and insulating himself, added Solomon Wisenberg, a prosecutor in Kenneth Starr's Whitewater investigation. "It makes it that much harder I think for somebody to try to either pardon someone like Manafort or get Mueller fired."

Preet Bharara, whom Trump fired as U.S. attorney covering Manhattan, told Politico that it's "hard to tell, but the George Papadopoulos guilty plea tells us (a) Mueller is moving fast (b) the Mueller team keeps secrets well (c) more charges should be expected and (d) this team takes obstruction and lying very, very seriously." That last part "should be of concern to some people," he added.

The fact that Papadopoulos has been cooperating with Mueller's investigation for months, since his secret arrest in July at Dulles airport, should make a lot of people in Trump's orbit nervous. "I'm sure there are a lot of phones ringing off the hook to folks' lawyers," said Julie Myers Wood, another Whitewater prosecutor. "They're rethinking any interaction with him in the last few months." Below, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, a member of the Iran-Contra prosecution team, lays out the case that Papadolpoulos was wearing a wire. Peter Weber

October 31, 2017

The White House spent Monday insisting that everything was calm after Special Counsel Robert Mueller's indictment of President Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his top aide, Rick Gates, plus the newly announced guilty plea of a Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos. Trump's lawyers and White House press secretary insisted the president had no big reaction to the news.

But "Trump's anger Monday was visible to those who interacted with him, and the mood in the corridors of the White House was one of weariness and fear of the unknown," The Washington Post reports. Trump spent much of Monday watching TV upstairs in his private residence, "seething," a Republican close to the White House tells CNN. "In the hours after the indictment," The Associated Press says, "the president angrily told one confidant that Manafort had been a campaign 'part-timer' who had only helped steer the convention and got too much credit for Trump's ability to hold onto the nomination."

Trump had been expecting the Manafort indictment, but was taken off guard by the news that Papadopoulos had been cooperating with Mueller. "The walls are closing in," one senior Republican in close contact with top staffers told the Post. "Everyone is freaking out." The Post adds:

Away from the podium, Trump staffers fretted privately over whether Manafort or Gates might share with Mueller's team damaging information about other colleagues. They expressed concern in particular about Gates because he has a young family, may be more stretched financially than Manafort, and continued to be involved in Trump's political operation and had access to the White House, including attending West Wing meetings after Trump was sworn in. [The Washington Post]

Trump is said to be especially concerned that Mueller might be nosing around in his business dealings. His lawyers and top aides are encouraging him to refrain from attacking Mueller, but former strategist Stephen Bannon and adviser Roger Stone are urging him to go on the offensive. Peter Weber

October 30, 2017

Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Trump's 2016 campaign, was indicted Monday on 12 counts stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian election interference. Manafort was implicated along with a former business associate, Richard Gates; both pled not guilty to the charges Monday and are on house arrest.

In a statement Monday afternoon, Manafort spokesman Kevin Downing dismissed Mueller's case against his client as "ridiculous" and a "very novel theory," singling out the charges of money laundering and false statements related to foreign lobbying in particular. "Today you see an indictment brought by the Office of Special Counsel that is using a very novel theory to prosecute Mr. Manafort regarding a [Foreign Agents Registration Act] filing. The United States government has only used that offense six times since 1966 and only resulted in one conviction."

Downing continued: "The second thing about this indictment that I, myself, find most ridiculous is a claim that maintaining offshore accounts to bring all your funds into the United States, as a scheme to conceal from the United States government, is ridiculous."

Read the full statement below. Kimberly Alters

See More Speed Reads