USA expands laundering, fraud charges against ex-Trump campaign chief Manafort

Former Donald Trump campaign official Rick Gates is expected to plead guilty to criminal charges in special counsel Robert Mueller's wide-ranging investigation of Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential campaign

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed new criminal charges on Thursday against President Donald Trump's ex-campaign aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates that include bank and tax fraud, stepping up pressure in a legal battle that started previous year.

The investigation by Mr. Mueller's team is centered on whether the loans from Federal Savings Bank, a small bank in Chicago run by chief executive Steve Calk, were made as part of a quid pro quo arrangement to secure Mr. Calk a job in Mr. Trump's administration, the person said.

George Papadopoulos, who was on the Trump campaign's foreign policy advisory panel, admitted in October 2017 to making false statements to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents about contacts he had with the Russian government in 2016.

The investigation by the USA attorney's office in Manhattan is focused on possible money laundering, and the two probes are intertwined, the person said.

The new charges come as Gates' legal strategy and defense team are still in question.

Clark never got a White House job. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is trying to find the answer, NBC News reported Wednesday. Both men pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering and failing to register as foreign agents for work they did for Ukraine. If Gates agrees to cooperate in the probe, that could put more pressure on Manafort and others who worked in the Trump campaign.

NBC's report comes just a few days after Mueller reported new criminal accusations against Manafort, including bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracies.

Sixteen of the 32 counts relate to false individual income tax returns, seven were for failure to report foreign accounts, five for bank fraud conspiracy and four for bank fraud.

Mueller's investigation arose in part from the findings of USA intelligence agencies that Russian Federation had meddled in the election and that its goals eventually included aiding Trump who won a surprise victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Earlier this year, Manafort filed a civil complaint against Mueller's office alleging the special counsel exceeded his authority by bringing charges against him because none of the charges were connected to the 2016 election.

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