Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was slapped with new charges on Friday, including an allegation he secretly recruited and funded a group of former European politicians to lobby in the United States on behalf of a foreign government.
According to NBC News, “the superseding indictment was filed just a couple of hours after Manafort’s business partner, former campaign aide Rick Gates, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and lying to investigators — even while he was negotiating a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller.”
Gates is now the third associate of President Donald Trump to strike a cooperation agreement with Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties to the campaign.
The agreement requires Gates to cooperate on “all matters” prosecutors deem relevant, a bad sign for Manafort and the Trump administration.
Further squeezing Manafort, Mueller lodged new accusations in a five-count superseding indictment Friday that charges him with conspiracy, money-laundering, being an unregistered agent for a foreign entity and making false statements.
One of the more surprising details in Friday’s court filings was the admission by Gates that even while he was negotiating a possible agreement with Mueller, he lied to investigators. He falsely claimed that Ukraine was not discussed at a March 19, 2013, meeting attended by Manafort, a lobbyist and member of Congress and that a report about the meeting was not sent to clients in the Ukraine.
The lawmaker who attended was Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., his office confirmed. Rohrabacher’s press secretary said it was a dinner with longtime acquaintances where “the three reminisced and talked mostly about politics.”
The Russia probe has been intensifying since the fall and has picked up more momentum in the last two weeks.
Trump has called the investigation a “witch hunt” and insists there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians.