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    Paul Manafort, senior advisor to Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, exits following a meeting of Donald Trump's national finance team at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, U.S. (File)

    Manafort Indictment Unlikely to Hurt Trump Unless Mueller Uncovers Russia Ties

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    The indictment of President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and an associate may not hurt the president in the long run because so far there are no links to Russia, analysts told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Paul Manafort and his deputy in the Trump campaign Rick Gates were indicted on Monday morning by Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller and placed under house arrest. The judge has set their bonds at $10 million for Manafort and $5 million for Gates.

    Manafort and Gates were indicted on 12 counts of charges of money laundering, concealment, conspiracy against the United States and failing to register as foreign agents of the Ukrainian government in their capacities as lobbyists working for pro-Russian former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych from 2004 to 2014.

    Manafort became Donald Trump's campaign chief in the summer of 2016, with Gates as his deputy.

    SHORT-TERM DAMAGE

    University of Southern California Professor of International Relations Professor Robert David English told Sputnik later on Monday that the fact of the indictments would prove damaging to the US president.

    "The indictments hurt Trump in the sense that they implicate former close advisers in significant criminal wrongdoing, which is never good. However, beyond that immediate harm, it is still unclear," English said.

    Trump would be in dire political straights if Mueller was able to follow up his indictments by uncovering hard evidence of significant collusion and cooperation between the Trump campaign and the Russian government before the 2016 election, English predicted.

    "If they lead to more investigations and more evidence and more testimony that actually establishes major pre-election collusion with Russian intelligence, then Trump is crippled," he stated.

    However, if Mueller only has evidence for the indictments he announced today, his probe could come to look like a witch-hunt, a hysterical and costly over-hyped attempt to unfairly delegitimize an elected president, English warned.

    "If they only lead to charges of money laundering and illegal income and the like — which is mainly what we see so far — then they could actually help Trump," he said.

    In that event, national political momentum would rebound to the president’s advantage, English noted.

    The arrest of Manafort and Gates would therefore prove to be a significant turning point whatever it led to, but its true consequence could not be discerned at this time, English explained.

    LONG-TERM OUTLOOK

    Also on Monday, the Department of Justice announced that George Papadopoulous, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, pled guilty to making false statements to FBI agents pertaining to Russian actors he had contacted or attempted to contact while acting as an adviser.

    George Mason University Professor of Law Francis Buckley told Sputnik that any real collusion between the Trump campaign and the government of Russia had never taken place.

    However, Buckley also cautioned that it was possible Manafort, Gates or Papadopoulos might be pressured to try and implicate the president.

    "For those who, like me, don’t believe there was any collusion with Russia, the only question is whether one of the three people indicted will lie and say there was to win a better deal," he said.

    After Manafort appeared in court where he pleaded not guilty to 12 charges including conspiracy, his lawyer Kevin Downing described Special Counsel Robert Mueller's allegations as ridiculous.

    On Monday, the ABC News channel reported that the second hearing for Manafort and Gates was slated for 06:00 GMT on Thursday, November 2.

    Related:

    Manafort Suspected of Borrowing Extra $26Mln from Russian Oligarch – Reports
    Manafort Demands Probe After Leak Revealed He Was Being Wiretapped
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    Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump, United States
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