Earlier this month, Mueller filed a charge against George Papadopoulos, foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos pled guilty. Read it here:
Today, the indictment against Manafort and his associate Gates was unveiled. Read it here:
So, here’s what’s happening. (I think.)
Papadopoulos was arrested in July and pled guilty to the charge of lying to the FBI in early October. Based on the allegations in the Charge, he could have been hit with charges of much bigger crimes. So, he must have cut a deal to testify against others. LIke the three Trump campaign officials named in the Charge, one of whom is probably Manafort.
The Indictment of Manafort is all about tax fraud and lobbying disclosure violations – predating his role in the campaign. These are big crimes that could get him years in prison and Mueller hoped that threatening him with these charges would get him to testify against others in the campaign. So far, Manafort may be keeping his mouth shut hoping for a pardon. But I’m sure the prosecutors are dangling a jail time reduction in front of him in exchange for testimony. Eventually, he’ll be part of a bigger indictment based on the stuff revealed in the Papadopoulos Charge.
So, when Trump tweets “no collusion” and says this stuff happened years ago, he’s ignoring the Papadopoulos Charge and focusing only on the Manafort indictment (which does continue into 2017, incidentally, so he’s mischaracterizing it as well).
And Flynn is still in the background — cooperating or not?
This stuff is complicated. Stay tuned.