Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s attempts to sabotage the 2016 election has yielded charges against three veterans of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign:
- Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, and his business partner, Rick Gates, have been indicted by a federal grand jury on twelve counts, including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, failure to register as foreign agents, giving false and misleading statements and failure to report foreign bank accounts.
- George Papadopoulos, a former Trump foreign-policy advisor, has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia during the campaign.
- Axios has a timeline of Manafort’s history of dubious dealings in the former Soviet Union.
- Max Boot expects Mueller will use the pressure of prison time to force Manafort and Gates to come clean about what they know about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. “Odds are that Manafort knows a lot, given his close connections to the Russians.”
- Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo argues that Papadopoulos’ guilty plea is more important than the charges against Manafort. The administration can reasonably claim the latter have nothing to do with the president, no matter that they are serious crimes allegedly committed by the campaign chairman while the campaign was underway. “The Papadopolous plea is quite different. It shows a Trump foreign-policy advisor in active communication with what appear to be Russian government officials or spies trying to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, arrange meetings with Russian government officials and solicit Russian support.”
- Jonathan Chait reports for New York magazine that Republicans are gearing up for an attack on Mueller: “The Republican Congress is using its investigative apparatus not to discover the extent of Russian interference in the election but instead to lash out at Trump’s political opponents.”
- Edward Luce of the Financial Times puts the odds of a full-blown constitutional crisis at 50-50: “Opinion polls suggest Republican voters remain strongly behind Mr Trump, which is the number that matters most to Republican legislators. Unless that changes, Mr Trump may feel that he can get away with sacking Mr Mueller.”