Mueller Files 32 New Charges Against Manafort & Gates

Special Counsel Bob Mueller has filed 32 new charges against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, as part of his special investigation. Here is the indictment [pdf] detailing the charges, most of which have to do with tax evasion and bank fraud.

"MANAFORT and GATES generated tens of millions of dollars in income as a result of their Ukraine work," reads the indictment. They are alleged to have enriched themselves acting "as unregistered agents of a foreign government and foreign political parties" then conspired to conceal their massive earnings from U.S. authorities in a grand scheme that included failing to report income, disguising income as "loans" from offshore corporate entities, using offshore accounts to purchase and/or refinance U.S. real estate, and other schemes. They also used the purchased properties to fraudulently obtain loans in excess of $20 million "by falsely inflating Manafort's and his company's income and by failing to disclose existing debt in order to qualify for the loans."

There's much more in the indictment, but those are the broad strokes. The list of foreign payments they made in this elaborate shell game is notable for the number of times financial institutions in Cyprus show up. Cyprus is where Russian oligarchs like to take their money to be laundered, and, of course, the current U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, has interesting ties to the financial sector there.

One thing I will note yet again, because I am the brokenest of broken records, is that this investigation is taking a very long time. I know, I know — Mueller and his team are being methodical and getting all their ducks in a row and so forth and so on. But it's troubling to me that it took nearly a year for these charges to be made, against two men who aren't even currently employed in the federal government.

I remain very anxious that the Trump administration and Republican Party will have eroded our public institutions and democratic norms so thoroughly by the time anything meaningful happens in the Mueller investigation, if anything meaningful ever does, that it will be too late.

Because one thing is clear: Trump and the GOP are getting their ducks in a row, to ensure and expand their stranglehold on the executive branch, the legislative branch, the judiciary, state governorships, and state legislatures.

We are in a race for our very fate, and it feels to me like the tortoise is not going to outwit the hare this time.

I desperately hope that I'm wrong, and fear that I'm not.

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