UPDATED: 3:01 p.m. EST — Former Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates each pleaded not guilty to separate felony charges stemming from their alleged involvement in colluding with Russia to affect the 2016 presidential election, CNN reported. Manafort was charged with conspiracy against the U.S. and money laundering, while Gates was charged with making a false statement to federal Lae enforcement.
The government requested that Manafort be held on $10 million bail and $5 million bail for Gates.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted on Monday during her daily media briefing that the charges had nothing to do with Trump and everything to do with the failed presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.
UPDATED: 1:11 p.m. EST — The president was trying his best to deflect the arrest of three of his former campaign officials on Monday. Former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and George Papadopolous all surrendered to the FBI over felony charges issued as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion with Russia in the 2016 presidential election.
In particular, Manafort and Gates were “accused of money laundering and tax evasion on tens of millions of dollars they made while secretly lobbying for a political party in Ukraine,” the Hill reported. Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents while being questioned over being in contact with the Kremlin, NBC News reported.
The first steps to the impeachment of Donald Trump were ironically taken by his former presidential campaign manager — right into FBI headquarters Monday morning. Paul Manafort surrendered to the federal authorities after he was indicted as part of special counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the campaign to elect Trump.
Rick Gates and George Papadopolous, who were also part of the Trump campaign, also surrendered Monday in the investigation, according to the Associated Press.
Manafort was hit with federal charges including conspiracy against the US and money laundering. If convicted, he could face multiple years in federal prison. With the prospects of dying behind bars, the 68-year-old may feel the pressure to cooperate with Mueller (read: witch on Trump), something that probably scares the president more than Black women do.
While doubtful, those charges could be linked to allegations that Manafort was behind the racist ads on Facebook and Google that tried to influence the grassroots activism of the movement for Black lives to compel African-Americans to vote for anybody but Hillary Clinton, who Trump beat nearly one year ago.
Trump spent a good portion of Sunday tweeting about Mueller’s “witch hunt,” but the president’s Twitter fingers were silent on Monday until later in the morning.
Manafort’s Virginia home was raided by the FBI in August, signaling that he was a prime suspect in Mueller’s investigation into Russia collusion.
Monday’s arrests were precisely what the Congressional Black Caucus has been waiting for, as the group of Democrats has been pushing for Trump’s indictment since immediately after the election in question.
The president has been engaged in a war of words with the CBC for months now, with much of the exchange surrounding the prospects of Trump’s impeachment.
One member, Texas Rep. Al Green, took to the House floor this month and made an impassioned plea for Trump’s impeachment in part because of how he treated fellow Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson in the fallout over the president’s condolence call to a Black Gold Star widow.
The odds of Trump being impeached were two to one this summer, according to a English betting house. Chances are those odds were raised even higher on Monday.