Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his longtime associate Rick Gates have been charged by a federal grand jury as a result of the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in last year’s US presidential election.
Earlier, NBC News reported that the pair had been told to “surrender to law enforcement”, which they duly did.
The charges are the first to result from an investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, and relate to Manafort’s dealings with Ukraine rather than the central theme of that inquiry into alleged Russian interference.
Manafort and Gates have been indicted on 12 counts including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money and violating federal lobbying and banking laws.
The charges also include being the unregistered agent of a foreign principal” as well as making false statements.
‘Conspiracy against the United States’ – US Justice Department statement on Paul Manafort and Rick Gates: pic.twitter.com/oUlCZzAFUr— Dmitry Zaks (@dmitryzaksAFP) October 30, 2017
American intelligence agencies say Moscow tried to help President Donald Trump defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in November 2016.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is probing whether Trump campaign officials colluded with the alleged Russian interference.
Moscow stands accused of a campaign of hacking and releasing embarrassing emails, and disseminating propaganda via social media to discredit the Clinton campaign.
Both the US President and the Russian leadership deny the allegations.
It is now commonly agreed, after many months of COSTLY looking, that there was NO collusion between Russia and Trump. Was collusion with HC!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 27 octobre 2017
The special counsel’s investigation also includes an effort to determine whether the president or any of his aides tried to obstruct justice.
Mueller was appointed by the Justice Department to lead the probe, a week after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was leading a federal investigation into possible collusion with Russia.
Trump initially said he fired Comey because his leadership of the FBI was inadequate and hurt morale, but in a later interview with NBC he cited “this Russia thing” as his reason.
The full indictment against Paul Manafort and Richard Gates is available here.