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Former Trump aide pledges not guilty to charges in Russian probe

Former Trump aide pledges not guilty to charges in Russian probe

Posted November. 01, 2017 08:45,   

Updated November. 01, 2017 09:26


Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort surrendered Monday to Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and pleaded not guilty.

Another aide of President Trump indicted, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos stated that he "falsely described his interactions with a certain foreign contact who discussed 'dirt' related to emails" concerning Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

In federal court in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Manafort pleaded not guilty to all charges including money laundering of 18 million dollars. When asked whether he “is aware of the charges and pleads guilty to those” from Judge Deborah Robinson, he denied the charges.

Manafort has been the target of the FBI’s investigation for his alleged taking tens of millions of dollars to lobby for Ukraine supported by Russia before he took the role of campaign manager from June to August last year. The special investigation team led by Muller reportedly secured some crucial evidence in July by raiding his house in Alexandria, Virginia. The indictment alleges Manafort spent his laundered money on the house and lavish things such as a Mercedes Benz, a Range Rover, and high-priced art pieces.

“Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates were indicted with a total of 12 charges by federal court in Washington,” announced the special investigation team last Friday. Charges include conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, illegal money laundering, failure to register as agents for foreign interests and failure to disclose their financial assets in foreign banks and institutions.

Rick Gates, who also joined the Trump campaign, established a company in Cyprus to help Manafort take money from Eastern European politicians and businessmen. Gates also pleaded not guilty in the courthouse on the same day.

The federal judge ordered Manafort and Gates to be confined at home because of the “possible destruction of evidence,” and set bail at 10 million dollars for Manafort and 5 million dollars for Gates. If convicted, both will face more than 10 years of imprisonment.

Jeong-Hun Park sunshade@donga.com