Paul Manafort told to surrender to federal authorities in Robert Mueller Russia probe
The former campaign manager for Donald Trump has been ordered to surrender to US federal authorities as part of the ongoing investigation into the role of Russia in the 2016 presidential election.
According to reports on both CNN and The New York Times, Paul Manafort is one of the first to be charged in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe, with the other person in question being his former business associate, Rick Gates.
Manafort, 68, served on the Trump campaign from June to August 2016 before he resigned amid growing reports that he may have received millions of dollar in illegal payments from a pro-Russian political party in the Ukraine. On Monday morning he was pictured leaving his home with his lawyer by his side, and it's being reported that he turned himself in at the FBI's field office in Washington.
Mueller has been investigating Manafort's financial and real estate dealings for some time and he's also been looking at his prior work for that political group, the Party of Regions, which backed the former Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovich. Manafort is also being investigated for potential money laundering and other financial crimes, according to sources.
Gates served as deputy to Manafort during his brief time on Trump's campaign and it is believed that his long-time business partner also has ties to many of the same Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs.
Last month it emerged that the FBI had searched the property of Donald Trump's former campaign chairman as part of the ongoing investigation into the role of the Russians. According to the Washington Post, "documents and other materials were seized" during the raid on July 26. Also, one day before the raid, Manafort had met with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators to discuss a meeting that had taken place between a Russian lawyer and members of Trump's campaign team, which reportedly took place during the election campaign in 2016.
It's believed that Mueller and his team are also looking into a document by former British spy Christopher Steele. According to reports, the dossier contains controversial explosive and unverified allegations regarding Trump and his team, and it is being taken very seriously.
In January, US intelligence agencies also concluded that Russia had interfered with the election in order to try and help Trump triumph over Hillary Clinton through a campaign of hacking and releasing embarrassing emails. Mueller is investigating whether the Russians acted alone, or whether Trump and his campaign officials aided them in their efforts. The team are also examining other possible acts of crime, including obstruction of justice, tax evasion and money-laundering.
Trump had previously fired FBI director James Comey, who was leading the investigation into Russian interference in the election, in May 2017. The President has actively denied allegations that his campaign had colluded with the Russians, and condemned the investigations and the coverage in the media, as a witch hunt. The Kremlin has also denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
It remains to be seen what the conclusion from the investigation will be and no doubt it will rumble on for a long while yet. You would have to say with the sacking of Comey, the evidence of hacking and now the investigation into Manafort - things really aren't looking great for Trump.