08:02 GMT28 November 2020
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    Paul Manafort, once a campaign manager for Donald Trump’s successful 2016 election run, appeared in a federal Washington, DC, court Monday where he plead not guilty to 12 charges, including conspiracy against the US.

    Rick Gates, one of Manafort's business partners, was also included in the indictment. According to the indictment, the pair "generated tens of millions of dollars in income as a result of their Ukraine work." Gates' attorney, a public defender, pleaded not guilty for the defendant.

    The duo had their passports confiscated and have been placed on home confinement; the government has reportedly asked for Manafort's bail to be set at $10 million and Gates' at $5 million. The trial may not begin for another six months even if the docketing process is expedited. 

    A spokesman for Gates released a statement saying the defendant "welcomes the opportunity to confront these charges in court" and that "the fight is just beginning."

    ​The allegations against Manafort arose as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into collusion between the Trump's campaign and Russian actors, but the actions in question occurred before Manafort was part of Trump's campaign. 

    Manafort is represented by Kevin M. Downing, an attorney specializing in white collar crime. Downing worked as a senior Justice Department official before leaving to represent clients in complex financial investigation cases.

    Manafort's charges did not mention "Russian collusion," the indictment stated.

    ​According to a spokesman for the special counsel's office, Manafort is accused of committing conspiracy against the US, engaging in conspiracy to launder money, acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, and making false and misleading Foreign Agent Registration Act statements. He also faces seven charges of failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

    The indictments are "throwaway charges," veteran former Central Intelligence Agency officer and co-host for Sputnik Radio's Loud & Clear John Kiriakou said on Twitter.

    Trump is not planning on making any changes with respect to the status of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Monday.

    "The president said, I believe last week, and I said several times before, there is no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the Special Counsel," Sanders stated when asked whether Trump would rule out firing Mueller.

    Earlier on Monday, the Office of the Special Counsel reported that Manafort and Gates have been indicted on 12 counts, including money laundering and working as unregistered foreign agents for the Ukraine government. The indictments are the first to emanate from Mueller's probe into the Trump campaign and Russia.

    According to the indictment, Manafort and Gates passed more than $75 million through hidden offshore accounts to evade taxes. They also engaged in a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign in the United States on behalf of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych and his government, the indictment added.

    Russian officials have repeatedly denied allegations of interfering in the 2016 US presidential race, saying there was no collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign in an effort to sway the vote.


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