Donald Trump

Manafort Indicted for Hiding Financial Ties to Ukraine

This is not about Donald Trump, Russia, or the 2016 election.


Paul Manafort
Douliery Olivier/ABACA/Newscom

Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump's campaign, was the first to be indicted by Justice Department special prosecutor Robert Mueller. He surrendered to authorities this morning.

But before everybody goes crazy on social media thinking that this is the beginning of the end of the Trump administration and either celebrating or condemning, the charges against Manafort have no clear relationship or connection to any alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.

Manafort, along with a former business associate named Rick Gates, have been indicted for conspiracy to launder money, serving as an unregistered agent of a foreign official, and several counts of false statements and failure to file appropriate bank reports.

He's also charged with "conspiracy against the United States," which is going to draw a lot of attention (CNN tossed it right into the headline), but to be very clear here, this charge has absolutely nothing to do with allegations of a relationship between the Trump campaign and Russia. Instead, this is about Manafort's relationship and lobbying on behalf of Ukraine's government and his alleged failure to adequately report the relationship and account for the money he received. This in not about committing anything resembling treason.

In short, Manafort is accused of taking money to lobby for Ukraine and laundering it through other countries and businesses so that they he wouldn't have to publicly account for it and pay taxes on it.

From the indictment itself:

Manafort indictment
Justice Dept.

The full indictment may be read here, and the accusations are surprisingly easy to understand given the complexity of the case.

Be very wary of any reporting suggesting this is going to have any connection to Trump or that this proves some sort of collusion with Russia. This indictment is not about Russia. And, honestly, since it doesn't implicate Trump in any way, don't be surprised if the president tosses Manafort directly under the Justice Department's steamroller.

UPDATE: Ken "Popehat" White explains the meaning of the various charges and the indictment itself here.

UPDATE: Trump tweets his reactions: