Trump’s flock of felons: Here’s what Mueller’s report says about some of the Trump associates who have faced criminal charges
Much of the right-wing media has been characterizing Attorney General William Barr’s release of the final report for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation as a major victory for President Donald Trump, insisting that Democrats have been carrying out a baseless vendetta against the president and his allies. But Mueller’s investigation led to criminal charges for major Trump associates ranging from his former personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen (who is due to report to federal prison in May) to his former campaign manager Paul Manafort (who has been sentenced to seven years in prison). Veteran journalist Dan Rather has described these Trump associates as a “flock of felons.’
Here are some of the things Mueller’s report has to say about Manafort, Cohen and others.
1. Paul Manafort
Mueller’s report notes that Manafort is among those mentioned in an August 2, 2017 memo, which “confirmed the special counsel’s authority to investigate,” among other things, “allegations involving Manafort”—and that includes “crimes arising from payments he received from the Ukrainian government and crimes arising from his receipt of loans from a bank whose CEO was then seeking a position in the Trump Administration.”
The report also says that Manafort “lied” to a “grand jury concerning his interactions and communications” with Ukrainian/Russian political operative Konstantin Kilimnik “about Trump campaign polling data and a peace plan for Ukraine.”
2. Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen has pled guilty to felonies ranging from bank and tax fraud and campaign finance violations to lying to Congress about the Trump Organization’s plans for a Trump Tower Moscow project in Russia in 2016. Mueller’s report notes that “by November 2015,” Trump had “signed a letter of intent for Trump Tower Moscow” and that “in January 2016, Trump Organization executive Michael Cohen e-mailed and spoke about the project with the office of Russian government press secretary Dmitry Peskov. The Trump Organization pursued the project through at least June 2016, including by considering travel to Russia by Cohen and candidate Trump.”
3. George Papadopoulos
George Papadopoulos, a 2016 Trump campaign adviser on foreign policy, served a brief prison sentence in late 2018 for lying to the FBI during the Russia investigation. Mueller’s report mentions Papadopoulos’ communications with Russians during Trump’s campaign. According to Mueller’s report, Papadopoulos “made early contact with Joseph Mifsud, a London-based professor who had connections to Russia, and traveled to Moscow in April 2016. Immediately upon his return to London from that trip, Mifsud told Papadopoulos that the Russian government had ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of e-mails. One week later, in the first week of May 2016, Papadopoulos suggested to a representative of a foreign government that the Trump campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to candidate Clinton.”
Mueller’s report continues, “Throughout that period of time and for several months thereafter, Papadopoulos worked with Mifsud and two Russian nationals to arrange a meeting between the campaign and the Russian government. No meeting took place.”
4. Rick Gates
In February 2018, Rick Gates (a 2016 Trump deputy campaign manager and former business partner of Manafort) pled guilty to financial fraud and lying to federal investigators. And Gates became prosecutors’ star witness when Manafort battled 18 criminal charges during his trial in the Summer of 2018. Mueller’s report discusses information Gates provided about Donald Trump, Jr.’s anti-Hillary Clinton efforts in 2016.
According to Mueller’s report, Gates stated that “in the days before” the Trump Tower meeting of June 9, 2016,” Donald Trump, Jr. “announced at a regular morning meeting of senior campaign staff and Trump family members that he had a lead on negative information about the Clinton Foundation.” The report adds, “Gates believed that Trump Jr. said the information was coming from a group in Kyrgyzstan and that he was introduced to the group by a friend.”
The report also says that “according to Gates, Manafort warned the group” attending the meeting that it “likely would not yield vital information, and they should be careful.” Those attending the meeting, according to Mueller’s report, included Trump, Jr., Manafort, Jared Kushner, Hope Hicks, and others.