New sealed criminal charges have been filed in federal court in the criminal case brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller against President Donald Trump’s former senior campaign aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, a court record seen by Reuters on Wednesday showed.
The single page, filed at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, does not shed light on the nature of the new charges. Its inclusion in a binder in the court clerk’s office that is routinely updated with new criminal charges signals that Mueller’s office has filed a superseding indictment replacing a previous one from last year.
Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign manager for almost five months in 2016, and Gates, who was deputy campaign manager, were indicted by Mueller’s office in October. They face charges including conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy to defraud the United States and failure to file as foreign agents for lobbying work they did on behalf of the pro-Russian Ukrainian Party of Regions. Both have pleaded not guilty.
This is big, because the fact these charges are sealed are immensely suggestive of charges forthcoming against other individuals, and also neatly sticks a fork in the complaint that Manafort and Gates weren't charged with anything close to a conspiracy involving the Trump campaign. Those sealed charges? You want to bet somebody's scared as hell?
It also means that if Rick Gates really is turning state's evidence against Manafort, these new charges could be what he's pleading guilty to. We'll find out eventually, but my guess is Paul Manafort is screwed...or maybe he too is now cooperating. Mueller has been one step ahead of everyone, it seems.
That brings us to story number two today: Manafort is in a lot of trouble regardless of those sealed charges.
Federal investigators are probing whether former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort promised a Chicago banker a job in the Trump White House in return for $16 million in home loans, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told NBC News.
Manafort received three separate loans in December 2016 and January 2017 from Federal Savings Bank for homes in New York City, Virginia and the Hamptons.
The banker, Stephen Calk, president of the Federal Savings Bank, was announced as a member of candidate Trump's Council of Economic Advisers in August 2016.
Special counsel Robert Mueller's team is now investigating whether there was a quid pro quo agreement between Manafort and Calk. Manafort left the Trump campaign in August 2016 after the millions he had earned working for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine drew media scrutiny. Calk did not receive a job in President Donald Trump's cabinet.
The sources say the three loans were questioned by other officials at the bank, and one source said that at least one of the bank employees who felt pressured into approving the deals is cooperating with investigators.
In court filings Friday related to Manafort's bail, federal prosecutors said they have "substantial evidence" that a loan made from the bank to Manafort using the Virginia and Hamptons properties as collateral was secured through false representations made by Manafort, including misstatements of income.
When asked by NBC News if Manafort had lobbied the Trump transition team or the White House for a position for Calk, the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Again, this has less to do with Trump and conspiracy than it does Paul Manafort being a really awful criminal who has been busted a mile wide open by Mueller, but the fact remains the same that Manafort is looking at some very lengthy prison time for all this if he's not pardoned by Trump...or Trump's successor.
We'll see. Stay tuned.