KTVN 2: Manafort, Gates Plead Not Guilty to 12 Counts, Including Conspiracy Against U.S.

Oct 31, 2017
In The News

The White House is distancing itself from the indictment of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates, as well as a plea agreement involving a former Trump campaign official.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says most of the alleged activities for which Manafort and Gates have been indicted took place before the 2016 campaign.

Sanders says the alleged misdeeds have nothing to do with Trump.

But she says it "has everything to do" with Hillary Clinton's campaign and a research firm that produced the dossier of allegations about Trump's ties to the Kremlin.

Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty during their federal court appearance.

Sanders was also asked about the guilty plea by former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. She says Papadopoulos was a "volunteer."

Earlier, President Donald Trump said the alleged misdeeds by his former campaign chairman were "years ago" and insists there was "NO COLLUSION" between his 2016 campaign and Russia.

Manafort and Gates were indicted Friday on money laundering and conspiracy charges. The indictment says money laundering occurred through "at least 2016."

Manafort's attorney, Kevin Downing said that charges related to his client's offshore money transfers were "ridiculous."

Manafort was released on $10 million bond and placed on house arrest. Gates' bond was $5 million.

Trump reacted on Twitter Monday. He says "Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren't Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus--?"

He then added: "Also, there is NO COLLUSION!"

The indictments are the first arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's sprawling investigation into possible coordination between Russia and Trump's 2016 election effort.

The indictments unsealed Monday in Washington contain 12 counts, including conspiracy to launder money, failing to register as a foreign agent, false statements, and multiple counts of failing to file reports for foreign bank accounts.

Manafort and Gates both turned themselves in to the FBI on Monday.

Those are the first charges in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.

CBS News reports that between 2006 and 2015, Manafort and Gates worked as unregistered agents of the government of Ukraine, and took in tens of millions of dollars in come, the indictment noted. The pair laundered the money through "scores of" U.S. and foreign corporations and bank accounts in order to hide their Ukraine payments from U.S. authorities, the indictment says. They funneled money through accounts in Cyprus, Saint Vincent, the Grenadines and the Seychelles, all while falsely and repeatedly reporting to the U.S. that they had no foreign bank accounts, according to the indictment.

In September, The New York Times reported that federal prosecutors had planned to indict Manafort. CBS News confirmed that month that Manafort had been wiretapped under a foreign intelligence warrant in connection with U.S. concerns that he was communicating with Russian operatives who wanted to influence the American election. The warrants were issued before Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel to take over the investigation from the FBI.

Manafort's attorney said that there's 'no evidence' that his client or the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia, calling the charges 'ridiculous.'

A spokesman for Gates released this statement:

"Rick Gates pled 'Not Guilty' today. He welcomes the opportunity to confront these charges in court. He is not going to comment further until he has had a chance to review the lengthy indictment with his legal team. In the meanwhile, he would appreciate you respecting his and his family's privacy as they weather this unexpected and hasty proceeding designed to accommodate perhaps political and press considerations rather than his right to counsel of his choice by his side during this most troubling and challenging day for him and his loved ones. This fight is just beginning."

House Speaker Paul Ryan isn't commenting on the indictments of President former campaign chairman and an associate.

Ryan said in a radio interview on WTAQ in his home state of Wisconsin that he doesn't have anything to say on that, other than "nothing's going to derail what we're doing in Congress because we're working on solving people's problems."

Ryan was discussing the Republican effort to overhaul the tax code.

Meanwhile, a former campaign aide to President Trump has already pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents working for special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 to one count of lying to FBI agents about the nature of his interactions with "foreign nationals" who he thought had close connections to senior Russian government officials. The plea was unsealed Monday.

Papadopoulos is the first person to face criminal charges that cite interactions between Trump campaign associates and Russian intermediaries during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Papadopoulos was a member of the campaign's foreign policy team. But Trump aides have said he played a limited role in the campaign and no access to Trump.

Papadopoulos worked for Ben Carson's presidential campaign before serving as an adviser to the Trump campaign. Then-Carson campaign manager Barry Bennett told CBS News' Major Garrett that he had received a LinkedIn note from Papadopoulos on Nov. 5, 2015 with a resume and a mention that he had done work for the Hudson Institute. Bennett hired him as a foreign policy adviser with a $5,000 per month retainer – this at a time when Carson was very competitive with Trump and in desperate need of foreign policy advisers. He was laid off by the campaign shortly after the Iowa caucuses in the first round of campaign layoffs, after about seven weeks with the Carson campaign.

Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada’s First Congressional District released the following statement:

“Despite what the president wants us to believe, today’s indictment is not fake news. Mueller’s investigation must continue with no outside influence or partisan bickering in order to get to the truth. We must do all we can to protect the integrity of our democracy even if the path leads to the Oval Office.”