On Monday morning, October 30, Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed charges against Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman. The charges include money laundering and conspiracy against the United States, both of which are felonies. After the charges were announced, Manafort turned himself in that morning, was processed, was subsequently placed under house arrest, and is set to face trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The White House has not made any official comments on the charges.
Along with Manafort, two other former campaign officials were charged by the special counsel. Rick Gates, a longtime friend and business partner of Manafort, was charged in a 12-count indictment that includes money laundering, making false statements, and other charges related to his work with a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. The third person charged so far was George Papadopoulos, another former Trump campaign official has just recently pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI when asked about his contacts with people who claimed to have connections to high-level Russians.
While Papadopoulos has not gathered the most news coverage, his situation and guilty plea may be the most interesting. According to the FBI’s affidavit against Papadopoulos, a high-ranking Russian nicknamed the “Professor” only showed interest in Papadopoulos after it became public that he was employed by the Trump campaign. This is the key fact that Papadopoulos lied to the FBI about, because he initially told the FBI in January that the “Professor” had contacted him before he was hired by the Trump campaign, which has now been proven to be false.
The trials for Manafort and Gates have yet to start, but the evidence against them seems to be pretty convincing. If convicted, they would both face at least 10 years in federal prison unless they agree to a plea deal, in which case they would get less prison. There is also the strong possibility that President Trump could pardon Manafort, Gates, and Papadopoulos, just like he did with Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. However, no indication has been made by the president that he would issue any pardons.