Our Pledge To You

News

SWEET: Manafort indicted: It’s a fact, not fake news

Paul Manafort

President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a former business associate, Rick Gates, were indicted Monday on charges of conspiracy against the United States, money laundering and several other financial charges. | AP file photo

The indictment of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on Monday presents President Donald Trump with a crisis he cannot wash away by calling it fake news.

The indictment sparked a renewal of Democratic calls for a “fully independent” probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections — as it throws a big curveball to the Trump White House.

Trump reacted in two Tweets to the breaking news about the money laundering, conspiracy against the U.S. and making false statements charges Manafort and his associate Rick Gates will be facing.

Former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos — who was raised in Lincolnwood, was a 2005 graduate of Niles West High School in Skokie and a DePaul University graduate — also pled guilty to making false statements.

Earlier Monday Trump, anticipating the development in a Tweet, tried to change the conversation to the research firm working on the “Trump dossier.”

“Report out that Obama Campaign paid $972,000 to Fusion GPS. The firm also got $12,400,000 (really?) from DNC. Nobody knows who OK’d!” Trump said in a Tweet.

Earlier, Trump tweeted, “All of this ‘Russia’ talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!”

These are the first charges of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

The indictments come as Trump and his team had been cranking up a drive to pass a tax reform package in Congress — a tough challenge since Republicans, who hold the majority in the House and Senate, have yet to agree on a plan.

The 12-count indictment against Manafort will present, at the least, a massive distraction.

And for all of Trump’s constant, almost daily attacks against the news media over stories Trump does not like, this fact situation, the reality of a 31-page indictment, exists independent of any particular news report.

Manafort’s indictment imperils the Trump White House and now may sweep in other Trump associates.

In recent days, Trump has been trying to throw a spotlight on Hillary Clinton’s emails, trying to revive that issue to deflect from the far more pressing problem of the indictment of the man who ran, for a time, the Trump presidential campaign. Trump has called on the State Department to release any remaining Clinton emails — a controversy stemming from her use of a personal email server.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement the probe being conducted by Mueller is not enough.

“Even with an accelerating Special Counsel investigation inside the Justice Department, and investigations inside the Republican Congress, we still need an outside, fully independent investigation to expose Russia’s meddling in our election and the involvement of Trump officials. Defending the integrity of our democracy demands that Congress look forward to counter Russian aggression and prevent future meddling with our elections.”

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement, “These reported indictments show that the special counsel’s probe is ongoing in a very serious way. The rule of law is paramount in America and the investigation must be allowed to proceed unimpeded.

“The President must not, under any circumstances, interfere with the special counsel’s work in any way. If he does so, Congress must respond swiftly, unequivocally, and in a bipartisan way to ensure that the investigation continues.”

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez issued the following statement, “The Chairman of Donald Trump’s campaign and his deputy have been charged with conspiracy against the United States, money laundering, and making false statements – all related to their work to promote a pro-Putin regime. Paul Manafort and Rick Gates ran Trump’s campaign and continued to be a part of his inner circle after Election Day.

This underscores the seriousness of the investigation into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia. It’s time for Republicans to commit to protecting this investigation and preserving the rule of law.”