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Manafort, Gates indicted on new tax and bank fraud charges

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed a 32-count indictment Thursday hitting former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and aide Rick Gates with fresh charges of tax evasion and bank fraud.

Manafort is specifically charged with five counts related to filing false income tax returns and four counts of failure to report foreign bank and financial accounts. Gates is accused of 11 counts related to filing false income tax returns and three counts of failure to report foreign bank and financial accounts.

Both men are accused of nine counts of bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

The new indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va. It leaves open the possibility that Manafort or Gates could face additional state charges of filing false tax returns. 

The additional charges involve much of the same conduct Manafort and Gates were charged with last year in an indictment in Washington. Thursday’s filing also increases the amount of money Manafort is accused of laundering through offshore accounts to $30 million.

The new indictment comes a week after Mueller filed charges against 13 Russians, accusing them of a vast conspiracy to undermine the U.S. presidential election.

The charges against Manafort and Gates don’t relate to any allegations of misconduct related to Trump’s campaign. They are accused of directing a covert Washington lobbying campaign on behalf of pro-Russian Ukrainian interests.

Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty after they were initially charged last October.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson and Jon Decker contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.

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Brexit bombshell: UK on verge of New Zealand tie-up – opening up £9TRN trade area

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Champions of Global Britain believe International Trade Secretary Liz Truss is on the verge of striking a deal with New Zealand that will deliver on the promise of Brexit and clear the way for a new relationship with some of the world’s most dynamic economies.

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Willie Nelson headlines protest rally on Texas Capitol steps.

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AUSTIN, Texas — Country music legend Willie Nelson led more than a thousand spectators in singing “vote them out” Saturday from the steps of the Texas Capitol during a rally wrapping up a four-day march in support of Democratic state legislators who bolted for Washington two weeks ago to block GOP-backed voting restrictions.

Families with lawn chairs spread out across the sprawling Capitol greens in Austin. Clergy, politicians, constituents and musicians all spoke out about the proposals to impose voter ID requirements, limit ballot drop boxes and mail voting, and strip local officials of their election authority.

The special session that was halted by the Texas Democrats’ exodus is set to expire next week, but Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has pledged to schedule a new one as soon as the lawmakers return to the state.

“If you don’t like who’s in there, vote them out,” Nelson sang, inviting he crowd to join him in singing lyrics he’d previously written about taking a stand at the ballot box.

“I felt like I needed to be here. It is a history-making event that is so necessary right now,” said Brenda Hanson, 75, of Austin. “I am a descendant of slavery and I am not interested in moving back, I want to see this country go forward. I have lived well over three quarters of a century and I have never seen us go backwards like this before.”

Hanson said she is disabled but otherwise would have participated in the nearly 30-mile walk. Instead, she hoped to make a statement with her presence as she sat chanting in support on a bench under a tree.

The march began Wednesday and ended Saturday when participants walked up to the doors of the Texas Capitol building. It was led, in part, by Beto O’Rourke, the former Democratic congressman and presidential candidate who has not ruled out a run for Texas governor in 2022. Earlier this week, O’Rourke and marchers shut down the frontage road of Interstate 35 during the morning rush hour, funneled between restaurants and cut a path from Republican-controlled statehouse districts to Democratic ones.

Marchers compared what the GOP says are measures meant to protect against fraud and restore confidence in American elections to Jim Crow-style restrictions. There has been no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

“I ask you to think about every man and every woman who had the courage in their convictions and did what they needed to do in their own moment of truth in this country’s history,” O’Rourke told the crowd.

More than a dozen people in favor of the voting legislation proposed in Texas gathered at the Capitol building’s front gate behind the rally, waving signs in support of the proposed changes. Republican state Sen. Bryan Hughes, author of the Senate’s version of the voting bill, told The Associated Press that when he heard about the rally, he decided to visit with people around the Capitol grounds to listen to their views and encourage them to read his piece of legislation.

“The right to vote is fundamental and so it has to be accessible and secure, both are important,” Hughes said. “This is America. This free speech— we love this. Whether folks agree with me or disagree with me, I am glad to be here.”

Hughes said “many people have heard generalizations,” and his goal is to discuss with constituents the specifics of the bill’s language.

Caught in the political crossfire are nearly 2,000 legislative workers who risk losing their paychecks after Abbott slashed funding for their salaries from the state budget in a punitive line item veto after Democratic lawmakers walked out in May. Lawmakers could restore the funding during the ongoing special session, if it weren’t at a standstill with more than 50 Democratic House members in D.C.

A lawsuit filed by Democrats on behalf of the legislative staffers is pending before the Texas Supreme Court. It’s not clear when the court might make a decision.

Renee Conley, 52, said she attended the rally with her daughter, for whom she is fighting against the Texas voting bill. When she goes to vote, Conley said she brings her daughter to the polls so she can learn the process in anticipation of the day she can cast her own ballot. Now, Conley said she fears by the time her daughter goes to college, she won’t be allowed to vote if she has only a university identification card.

“I am here for her rights,” Conley said. “There is no reason she should ever have any threat of not being able to vote.”

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EU torn apart for using Northern Ireland as ‘political football’ in Brexit battle with UK

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THE EU has been slammed for using Northern Ireland as a “political football” in its battle with the UK over the protocol.

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