Trib editorial: Paul Manafort, Rick Gates charges gravely serious
Robert Mueller’s special-counsel investigation of possible ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russia has generated speculation, cheerleading and criticism. Alleging gravely serious conduct, his indictment Monday of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former business associate Rick Gates cuts through that noise.
Mr. Manafort’s consulting work for a pro-Putin politician in Ukraine had made him a subject of FBI interest since 2014. Now, he and Mr. Gates face charges including conspiracy against the United States and laundering more than $75 million through offshore accounts. As a Washington Post analysis points out, these charges indicate Mr. Mueller had enough evidence for an independent grand jury empaneled by a federal judge to return this indictment. And he surely is confident about securing guilty pleas or convictions.
Time will tell whether these charges provide leverage for pursuing other charges against other figures. Mr. Trump tweeted that these charges concern matters occurring “years ago,” before Manafort joined his campaign, declaring “NO COLLUSION!” and trying to redirect attention to “Crooked Hillary and the Dems.”
These charges are not ones to brush off lightly. They must take their proper course in the courts while Mueller continues his duties as special counsel, following the evidence wherever it leads to ultimately provide the definitive answers that all Americans need about Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.