Former Trump Campaign Manager Manafort Charged with Conspiracy

Donald Trump's former campaign chair and convention manager Paul Manafort at the Republican Convention in Cleveland. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Donald Trump's former campaign chair and convention manager Paul Manafort at the Republican Convention in Cleveland. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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Former Trump Campaign Manager Manafort Charged with Conspiracy

Donald Trump's former campaign chair and convention manager Paul Manafort at the Republican Convention in Cleveland. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Donald Trump's former campaign chair and convention manager Paul Manafort at the Republican Convention in Cleveland. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort surrendered to the FBI on Monday and another ex-aide pleaded guilty to lying to agents in the most serious steps yet of a federal probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Manafort, 68, a longtime Republican operative, arrived at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Washington field office to hand himself in after being indicted by a federal grand jury on charges including money laundering and conspiracy against the United States.

In a separate announcement on Monday, the office of Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller said former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 to making false statements to FBI agents in the Russia probe. Papadopoulos is an international energy lawyer.

According to Reuters, Manafort associate Rick Gates was named alongside Manafort in the 12-count indictment, which was the first from Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in last year’s campaign to try to tilt the vote in Trump’s favor.

Neither Trump nor his campaign were mentioned in the indictment and many of the charges, some of which go back more than a decade, appear related to Manafort’s work for Ukraine’s pro-Russian government and political figures there.

Russia investigations by Mueller and several congressional panels have cast a shadow over the Republican president’s first nine months in office and have widened the rift between Republicans and Democrats.

Manafort ran the Trump campaign from June to August of 2016 before resigning amid reports he might have received millions in illegal payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.

Lawyers for Gates and Manafort did not immediately return calls for comment.

An initial court appearance and arraignment for the two men was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Monday in Washington before Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson, a court spokeswoman said.

Trump, who has denied any allegations of collusion with the Russians, reiterated on Monday his public frustration with the Mueller probe, which he has called “a witch hunt.”

“Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????,” Trump said in a Twitter post on Monday morning, referring to his Democratic presidential rival last year, Hillary Clinton.

Legal experts said the indictment could just be an opening salvo by Mueller. It put pressure on Manafort to cooperate with Mueller’s Russia investigation, said Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago. “If I were the defense lawyer I’d be looking into cooperating,” he said.



Iran’s Pezeshkian Rejects US Pressure, Praises Russia, China

Iran's newly-elected President Masoud Pezeshkian (C) is seen in the south of Tehran on July 6, 2024. (AFP)
Iran's newly-elected President Masoud Pezeshkian (C) is seen in the south of Tehran on July 6, 2024. (AFP)
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Iran’s Pezeshkian Rejects US Pressure, Praises Russia, China

Iran's newly-elected President Masoud Pezeshkian (C) is seen in the south of Tehran on July 6, 2024. (AFP)
Iran's newly-elected President Masoud Pezeshkian (C) is seen in the south of Tehran on July 6, 2024. (AFP)

The United States should realize that Iran will not respond to pressure, President-elect Masoud Pezeshkian said in a statement published on Saturday, in which he also highlighted his country's friendship with China and Russia.

Pezeshkian, a relative moderate who beat a hardline rival in elections, also reiterated that Iran does not seek nuclear weapons, adding that Tehran would expand ties with neighbors and engage with Europe.

"The United States...needs to recognize the reality and understand, once and for all, that Iran does not - and will not - respond to pressure (and) that Iran’s defense doctrine does not include nuclear weapons," Pezeshkian said in the statement, titled "My message to the new world" and published in the daily Tehran Times.

Pezeshkian, a 69-year-old heart surgeon, has pledged to promote a pragmatic foreign policy, ease tensions over now-stalled negotiations with major powers to revive a 2015 nuclear pact and improve prospects for social liberalization and political pluralism.

However, many Iranians are skeptical about his ability to fulfil his campaign promises as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, not the president, is the ultimate authority in the country.

"China and Russia have consistently stood by us during challenging times. We deeply value this friendship.

"Russia is a valued strategic ally and neighbor to Iran and my administration will remain committed to expanding and enhancing our cooperation," Pezeshkian said, adding that Tehran would actively support initiatives aimed at ending the conflict in Ukraine.

"The Iranian people have entrusted me with a strong mandate to vigorously pursue constructive engagement on the international stage while insisting on our rights, our dignity and our deserved role in the region and the world.

"I extend an open invitation to those willing to join us in this historic endeavor,"