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How Paul Manafort is connected to the Trump, Russia investigation

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Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, has been hit with new charges. 

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

Prosecutors claim Manafort and Gates doctored documents to inflate the income of their businesses and then used those fraudulent documents to obtain loans. They also accuse Manafort of evading taxes from 2010 through 2014 and, in some of those years, of concealing his foreign bank accounts.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, one focus of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, hides behind his car visor as he leaves his home in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S. October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RC1F89D175A0

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, one focus of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, hides behind a car visor as he leaves his home in Alexandria, Va., after being asked to surrender to federal authorities.

 (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

The charges against Manafort and Gates don’t relate to any allegations of misconduct related to Trump’s campaign.

The two men were initially charged in a 12-count indictment last October that accused them of a multimillion-dollar money-laundering conspiracy tied to their foreign lobbying work. Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty to the initial charges.

The additional charges involve much of the same conduct Manafort and Gates were initially charged with, but increase the amount of money Manafort is accused of laundering through offshore accounts to $30 million.

Manafort has been the subject of a longstanding investigation over his dealings in Ukraine several years ago – for which he didn’t file as a foreign agent until June 2017. But Mueller has incorporated that investigation into his own probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump associates.

What kind of foreign work did Manafort do?

A GOP operative who worked for former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Manafort reportedly began his work in Republican politics in the 1970s.

Eventually, Manafort was hired by controversial former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russia politician who was ousted from power twice. After Yanukovych was elected president in 2010, Manafort reportedly stayed on as an adviser and worked with other projects in Eastern Europe, including the Party of Regions political party.

Manafort also worked for Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. In 2005, Manafort allegedly came up with a plan to influence U.S. politics, business dealings and the media in order to “greatly benefit the Putin Government,” according to The Associated Press.

TRUMP AND THE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION: WHAT TO KNOW

Deripaska, 49, is a close Vladimir Putin ally and signed a $10 million annual contract with Manafort in 2006. They maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, The Associated Press reported.

Financial records obtained by The New York Times indicated that Manafort was in debt to pro-Russian interests by up to $17 million prior to joining Trump’s campaign.

He also took at least 18 trips to Moscow and frequently talked to Putin allies for about 10 years, McClatchy reported. He also traveled to Kiev at least 19 times in 20 months after the February 2014 removal of Ukraine’s pro-Russia leader.

How was Manafort involved with Trump’s campaign?

Manafort joined then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign in March 2016 to help wrangle delegates ahead of the Republican National Convention in Ohio, something he successfully did for former President Gerald Ford.

Just two months later, Manafort became campaign chairman. 

Manafort’s resignation from the campaign was announced on August 19, 2016, after the New York Times reported that he received $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments from Yanukovych’s pro-Russian party between 2007 and 2012.

MANAFORT FACES NEW MONEY LAUNDERING PROBE

Along with Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s elder son, Manafort met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016. She reportedly was said to have damaging information on Trump’s campaign rival, Hillary Clinton, which was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

What has the White House said?

Manafort’s alleged actions took place before he joined the Trump campaign, the president said on Twitter.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders also downplayed Manafort’s involvement with the campaign in a press briefing. 

Could he help investigators discover if Trump associates colluded with Russia?

Mueller took over the criminal investigation into Manafort’s financial dealings as he looks into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the White House.

Manafort has turned over documents to congressional committees investigating election interference. Judiciary committee leaders have been in talks with Manafort regarding private interviews.

Manafort’s house was raided last summer by FBI investigators, and he was reportedly wiretapped by investigators – before and after the election.

A secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court order authorized the wiretapping of Manafort in 2014. It was discontinued in 2016, but investigators obtained another warrant that lasted until early 2017, CNN reported.

Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain, Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @K_Schallhorn.



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