Sky News reports that Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has been charged with conspiracy against the US as part of the Russia inquiry. He is also facing several other charges, including conspiracy to launder money and of being an unregistered agent of a foreign country. His former business associate Rick Gates has also been charged. Both men handed themselves in to the FBI on Monday morning and will appear in court at 18.30hrs GMT. Mr Manafort served as Mr Trump’s campaign manager between June and August 2016, but resigned after reports he had covertly lobbied on behalf of Ukraine’s ruling party in the US.
Following Monday’s charges President Trump sought to distance himself from his former campaign manager. “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign,” he tweeted. “But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????” He also repeated his claim that there was “no collusion” between the Kremlin and his election campaign team. The charges were brought as part of an investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia by special counsel Robert Mueller.
They were approved by a federal grand jury on Friday but were not unsealed until Monday morning. The two men are accused of engaging in a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign in the US at the direction of the former President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. The special counsel said that $75m flowed through the offshore accounts belonging to Mr Manafort and Mr Gates. The pair are accused of laundering money from 2006 until at least as recently as 2016.
A third Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos, will also face criminal charges, the special counsel revealed on Monday. The energy lawyer was part of Trump’s advisory team in 2016 and has already pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents.