Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his former business associate Rick Gates pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of conspiracy against the United States and money laundering in connection with Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the election. Manafort's bail was set at $10 million, or roughly 10 times his spending on antique rugs. Gates' bail was set at $5 million. Both men were placed under house arrest.
Manafort and Gates, "together with others," from around 2006 to 2017, "conspired to defraud the United States by impeding, impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful governmental functions" of the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury, the indictment alleges. Manafort and Gates were also charged with conspiring to launder money, failing to report financial interests in a foreign country, lying in documents in which agents of other governments are meant to disclose their relationship with those other countries, and lying in statements to the DOJ.
Manafort has been a figure of interest in the conversation around the special counsel investigation since its inception. Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign in August 2016 after a series of reports about his ties to pro-Russian interests in Ukraine. In March, it was reported that Manafort had drafted a plan in 2005 to influence American politics for a Russian billionaire aligned with Putin. In July, the FBI conducted a pre-dawn raid on his home. In September, documents turned over to the investigation showed that Manafort offered to provide updates on the campaign to a Russian billionaire. Around the same time, reports also revealed Manafort had been under intermittent FBI surveillance for the past couple years.
On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Manafort was also under investigation for possible money laundering. CNN first reported Friday that a grand jury had approved the first charges in Mueller's investigation and that those charged were expected to be taken into custody on Monday.
According to the Times, Rick Gates is a “longtime protégé and junior partner” of Manafort’s who is “linked to companies that Mr. Manafort’s firm set up in Cyprus to receive payments from politicians and businesspeople in Eastern Europe.”
Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the election can also include “any matters that arose or may directly arise from the investigation,” which has been reported to include an investigation of Trump for possible obstruction of justice. Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, who formerly led the investigation, first blaming his handling of the Clinton email investigation and later acknowledging it had to do with the Russia investigation.
Update, Oct. 30, 2017, at 9:20 a.m.: This post has been updated with new information about the criminal charges.
Update, Oct. 30., 2017, at 2:20 p.m.: This post has been updated with news of Manfort's and Gates' pleas.
Update, Oct. 30, 2017, at 3:05 p.m.: This post has been updated with information about their house arrest and bail.