Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for US President Donald Trump is most likely to be indicted.
US investigators have reportedly wiretapped Manafort and have also informed him that he will be subjected to indictment shortly.
Paul Manafort is a political consultant and lobbyist who joined the Trump Presidential campaign in March 2016. In August 2016, reports noted that Manafort had ties to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions. It was also alleged that he may have illegally received $12.7 million off the books. He left the campaign shortly thereafter.
In 2017, the American media revealed that during the campaign, Trump Jr met with Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya and music promoter Rob Goldstone. Veselnitskaya has deep ties to Kremlin. Based on emails released by Trump Jr, Goldstone had promised information that would be harmful to Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. The meeting was also attended by Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor at the White House and Manafort.
Additionally, details have since emerged that Manafort has been under investigation from the FBI since 2014. Other intelligence agencies such as the CIA, NSA and the Director of National Intelligence are also investigating him.
In May 2017, the Department of Justice appointed former FBI chief Robert Mueller to head the investigation against the Russian collusion in the presidential election. Therefore, Mueller has taken over the existing criminal probe on Manafort. In August 2015, it was reported that Mueller has impaneled a grand jury as part of his investigations.
The FBI conducted a raid on Paul Manafort’s home in July. During the pre-dawn raid, the FBI reportedly seized documents related to the investigation. Manafort currently under investigation for allegedly violating the country’s tax laws as well as for money laundering. He’s also under scrutiny for violations in the disclosures of foreign lobbying.
The New York Times has reported that Mueller’s team has reached out to Manafort to inform him that he will most likely be indicted. According to the report, Mueller and his team of prosecutors has taken an aggressive stance in the investigations. He has obtained a number of subpoenas to compel witnesses to testify before a grand jury. This pace is far faster than how investigations are carried out for other white-collar crimes. They seem to have adopted a shock and awe tactic to get witnesses to cooperate.
Solomon L. Wisenberg, who had served as the deputy independent counsel in the investigation that led to the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999 has said, “They are setting a tone. It’s important early on to strike terror in the hearts of people in Washington, or else you will be rolled. You want people saying to themselves, ‘Man, I better tell these guys the truth.’”
In addition, CNN has reported that the investigators had also wiretapped Manafort in a bid to get as much information as possible. The wiretapping has taken place early this year, a period when Manafort was still speaking to US President Donald Trump.
Manafort has denied that he has been party to any crime.
In addition to the probe on Manafort, there is also an FBI investigation on the former National Security Adviser and retired General, Michael Flynn. Mueller is also reportedly investigating whether Trump himself is guilty of obstruction of justice. David Gergen, senior political analyst for CNN has said that these developments pose a grave jeopardy for the current White House administration.
Our assessment is that Mueller’s pace in conducting the investigation is a dire threat to Trump’s legitimacy as the President of the United States. If Manafort is indicted, then his links to the Trump campaign will further be scrutinized. If Manafort had been wiretapped during a period when he was still speaking to the President, then those conversations could further spell doom for Trump’s Presidency.