Special Counsel Robert Mueller has this week turned up the heat in the investigation into allegations of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential election campaign. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, last week Mueller laid indictments against 13 Russians, something that national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, said provided “incontrovertible evidence” of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. If Mueller had followed previous patterns in the investigation we would have expected a period of quiet whilst further investigations took place. Instead, Mueller has turned up the heat, in what has been an incredible week for the Trump – Russia investigation.
As reported by the Chicago Tribune, a lawyer with links to Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates became the latest person to plead guilty to a charge relating to the Russia investigation. Like former national security advisor Mike Flynn and Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopolous, Alex van der Zwaan entered a guilty plea to a charge of lying to the FBI.
According to court documents the lawyer’s plea relates to contacts between him, Rick Gates, and an unnamed “person ‘A’.” Van der Zwaan is also alleged to have deleted emails requested by the Mueller investigation team that dates back to the height of the presidential election campaign in September 2016.
Van der Zwaan’s indictment bears a striking similarity to that laid against Mike Flynn, who claimed that he was under orders from a “senior member of the Trump campaign team” during his contacts with Russian officials. Speculation has suggested that senior member was either Donald Trump Jr. or Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Mueller Investigation Lays Further Charges Against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates
As reported by the Washington Post, Mueller has followed up his indictment of Van der Zwaan by laying a further 32-count indictment against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. The latest charges relate to alleged money laundering, tax fraud, and fraud against banks, and are linked to business dealings with pro-Russian entities in Ukraine. Those charges make clear that the Mueller investigation is still “following the money” in the Russia investigation.
As reported by CNN, the latest charges ramp up the pressure on Manafort and Gates. They also report that Gates is currently in negotiation with the Mueller investigation over a possible plea deal. If Gates cooperates with the Mueller investigation it may convince Manafort to do likewise and thereby put President Trump, or senior members of the Trump administration in the dock.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Rick Gates has already agreed to a deal with the Mueller investigation. They claim that sources familiar with the investigation have indicated that Gates will enter a guilty plea in return for a reduced sentence and will testify against Manafort.
As reported by the Palmer Report, Manafort has been close to Donald Trump for almost four decades. They claim that if Mueller can convince Manafort to cooperate with his investigation then President Trump will resign within two weeks.
Of course, President Trump continues to deny any collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. In his latest tweet about the matter, Trump once again attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and on this occasion laid responsibility for Russian meddling in the 2016 election at the feet of President Obama.