Paul Manafort has been named as the first person indicted on federal charges as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Manafort was told to turn himself in Monday morning, the New York Times reports. The charges against Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump, were not immediately released. His protege and junior partner, Rick Gates, was also indicted, the newspaper reports.
This is a breaking story and will be updated as more information is made available. Here is what we know about the indictment and investigation so far:
1. The Indictment Was Sealed by a Federal Judge After a Grand Jury Handed Down the Charges on Friday
The existence of the indictment was first reported on Friday by CNN. According to the news network, a federal grand jury in Washington handed down the charges and the case was sealed by a judge. CNN reported Friday that the target or targets of the indictment could be taken into custody as soon as Monday. Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel, declined to comment.
“Sealing is fairly common at the stage when you have an indictment that is issued or approved, as it may have been today,” former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade told NBC News. “And the reason is that law enforcement kind of wants its ducks in a row before they go out and arrest the defendant or even notify him — it may be that they don’t arrest whoever this defendant is because they’ve worked out a relationship with his or her defense attorney to bring them in to appear on the case.”
According to CNN, top attorneys from Mueller’s team, including his right-hand man, Andrew Weissmann, were seen at the D.C. court where the grand jury has been seated. A “flurry of activity” was seen inside the courtroom, according to CNN.
The indictment is not the end of the investigation. Legal experts have said these charges could be used to push for cooperation in other areas that are being looked at by Mueller’s team.
“There is a lot of pressure on people who are under investigation to cooperate with Mueller after this indictment,” Michael Zeldin, a lawyer who served as special assistant to Mueller when he was in charge of the FBI, told CNN.
2. Mueller Was Appointed as Special Counsel in May After Trump Fired FBI Director James Comey
Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel in the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election in May 2017 by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein is overseeing the Justice Department’s involvement in the probe after Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was a Trump campaign surrogate, recused himself.
The appoint of Mueller came after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on May 9. Mueller took the special counsel job on May 17 and was given broad discretion as to what he was investigating.
Rosenstein said in a letter that Mueller will be investigating “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.”
Mueller, a former U.S. attorney, served as FBI director from 2001 to 2012. His investigation has focused on possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, along with potential obstruction of justice by Trump, who may have tried to impede the investigation before Mueller was appointed special counsel, according to CNN. His investigation has also focused on financial ties between members of the Trump campaign and Russia, along with foreign lobbying conducted by Trump associates, including Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn.
Mueller’s investigation is running alongside investigations being conducted by three Congressional panels.
3. Mueller Has Put Together a Team of High-Powered Prosecutors, Essentially Forming His Own U.S. Attorney’s Office
Mueller is joined by a team of powerful attorneys who he has brought together in Washington, D.C. The team, made up of prosecutors and investigators, is essentially working as a U.S. Attorney’s office.
Andrew Weissmann, the chief of the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, is said to have a major role in the team, and was seen in D.C. on Friday when the grand jury returned its first indictment.
He has also brought on attorneys from the DOJ’s money laundering, national security, terrorism and civil divisions, along with the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office and two top attorneys from the Solicitor General’s office.
Mueller additionally recruited several highly regarded former DOJ attorneys, many of whom he worked with in the public and private sector, including Aaron Zebley, his former chief of staff at the FBI and James Quarles III, who was the special assistant prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force. Greg Andres, a longtime white collar lawyer and former Justice Department prosecutor, joined the team in July. His speciality is foreign bribery.
4. He Empaneled the Grand Jury in Washington This Summer as His Investigation Intensified
Mueller first empaneled a grand jury in Washington D.C. over the summer. Its existence was first reported by the Wall Street Journal in early August. Federal investigators had previously been using a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia to obtain subpoenas and take other investigative steps, according to the Washington Post.
“This is news to me, but it’s welcome news to the extent it suggests that it may accelerate the resolution of Mr. Mueller’s work. The White House has every interest in bringing this to a prompt and fair conclusion. As we’ve said in the past, we’re committed to cooperating fully with Mr. Mueller,” White House special counsel Ty Cobb told the Post after the WSJ’s report.
5. Trump & His Allies Have Attempted to Discredit Mueller & Shift Attention to Democrats in Recent Days
President Donald Trump and his allies have recently stepped up their efforts in discrediting Mueller and trying to shift attention to the Democrats. Trump has claimed there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia, calling the probe a “witch hunt.”
On Sunday, two days after CNN’s report about the indictment, Trump unleashed a series of early morning tweets. “Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?). … the Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more. Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia ‘collusion,’ which doesn’t exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R’s are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!”
He added, “All of this “Russia” talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!”
Cobb said in a statement, Trump’s tweets are “unrelated to activities of Special Counsel with whom he continues to cooperate.”