Former campaign manager for United States President Donald Trump Paul Manafort and associate Rick Gates turned themselves over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday for charges of tax fraud and other counts.
The dual arrests do not relate to Mr Trump’s campaign but to he pair’s Ukrainian business interactions leading up to 2015.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged Mr Manafort and Mr Gates with a 12-point indictment that includes conspiracy against the US and conspiracy to launder money, which they plead not guilty to during a court appearance Monday afternoon.
Beyond these two charges, the pair face the following: unregistered agent of a foreign principle, false and misleading FARA statements and seven counts of failure to disclosed foreign bank and financial accounts.
Both are currently under house arrest.
Mr Mueller uncovered the dealings while investigating the two in relation to the investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election.
Mr Trump responded on Twitter a few hours after the charges were laid out, saying “sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign”.
He also called for investigation focus on “crooked” former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.
The president followed up with a second tweet saying there is “no collusion!”
The indictment revealed that former foreign affairs aide to Mr Trump, George Papadopoulos, secretly plead guilty in lying to FBI agents in the Russian investigation.
He had confessed to being untruthful to federal agents in regards to the timing of meetings with alleged Russian representatives.
Mr Papadopoulos had been told the Russians had “dirt” on Trump presidential rival Clinton.
Papadopoulos’ story seems similar to a June 9 meeting last year in Trump Tower, New York between three senior Trump campaign aides and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Ms Veselnitskaya also said she had “dirt” on Clinton, leading to the meeting between her self and Trump Jr, Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, among others.
Trump Jr had tried to brush off the meeting for being about Russian adoption, but admitted days later that he agreed to the meeting with the understanding that he would receive information damaging to Clinton, calling it conducting “opposition research.”
Robert Goldstone, the producer who had set up the meeting, said the Russian government was involved.
Mueller is investigating this meeting as well.
More details to follow. Image 1 of Paul Manafort from Business Insider.