In 2016, we had one of the most vicious and controversial presidential elections own history. However, it may actually be the aftermath of the election that shakes American politics to its core.
In May, the justice department appointment Robert Mueller, a former F.B.I. director, to be in charge of a special counsel to investigate Russia’s role in the 2016 election. The appointment was made just days after Trump fired his F.B.I. director James Comey.
The council was formed in May, and it was just last week that the first charges were filed in the investigation. Following months of subpoenas for documents and testimonies within the Trump administration, Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick gates were indicted on Monday and have since surrendered themselves to the FBI pleading not guilty.
Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, and Gates have been charged with 12 counts including: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. Although these accusations are serious, they do not necessarily connect these men’s actions to Trump or his campaign. The accusations stem from their financial relations with the Ukrainian government.
The closest the Mueller investigation has gotten to Trump so far may be perhaps the third man charged. Trump’s former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos was also indicted Monday, and plead guilty to making false statements to the FBI in regards to his interactions with officials close to the Russian government.
Papadopoulos believed the Russians had ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton, but lied about the timing of his interactions with the officials. Although the Manafort indictment caused a bigger stir in the media due to his name, it was the guilty plea of Papadopoulos that may bring more harm to the Trump administration.
Trump responded to these charges on twitter saying, “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????” followed by another tweet clarifying,”….Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”
However, this tweet was sent out only an hour before the charges against Papadopoulos emerged. With this connection, it becomes more and more difficult for the White House to assure no connections between the Trump administration and Russia’s interference in the election.
According to NBC, multiple sources familiar to the investigation have claimed that there is now enough evidence amassed to press charges against Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and his son.
These developments suggest Mueller’s investigation is moving at a rapid and steady pace. So far, the White House has claimed that the administration’s connection to this investigation is minimal, but an indictment of the president’s former national security advisor could rapidly dismantle that statement.