There’s Less to Mueller’s Charges Than Meets the Eye

    Aram Bakshian Jr.

    Politics, Americas

    Former Trump 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former campaign official Rick Gates appear in front of U.S. Magistrate Deborah A. Robinson in U.S. Federal Court during a hearing in the first charges stemming from a special counsel investigation of possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election in Washington, U.S., October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Bill Hennessey

    Manafort has been charged with acts and alleged offenses that have nothing to do with his role in the campaign.

    The most convincing indication of the flimsy results of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged connivance between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government can be found in the morning-after, front-page headline of the Washington Post:

    3 Trump campaign officials charged

    Sounds rather dramatic at first glimpse. But who is being charged with what? A close reading of the story that follows reveals that the only big name of the three “officials” is Paul Manafort, the veteran Washington lobbyist and wheeler-dealer who briefly served as the head of Donald Trump’s campaign for the Republican nomination before he was fired. Manafort has been charged with acts and alleged offenses that have nothing to do with his role in the campaign. Manafort and his longtime business associate, Rick Gates, have both pleaded not guilty—and have yet to be proven guilty—of money laundering, conspiracy and making false statements to investigators. But, even if they are eventually convicted, the charges are in no way connected to the Trump campaign, much less to Donald Trump himself. While a frenetic front-page story in the New York Times reported as fact that the charges laid out in the indictments “laid out the most explicit evidence to date that his campaign was eager to coordinate with the Russian government to damage his rival, Hillary Clinton,” the story that followed showed nothing of the sort.

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