Mueller files new charges in Manafort case, but target is a mystery
New sealed criminal charges have been filed in US federal court in the criminal case brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller against President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and campaign aide Rick Gates, a court record indicated on Wednesday.
The single-page document, filed at the US District Court for the District of Columbia, did not reveal the nature of the new charges, nor the identity of the charged person.
Its inclusion in a binder in the court clerk’s office that is routinely updated with new criminal charges signals that Mueller’s office may have filed a superseding indictment replacing a previous one from last year against the two men.
Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign manager for almost five months in 2016, and Gates, who was deputy campaign manager, were indicted by Mueller’s office in October. They face charges including conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy to defraud the United States and failure to file as foreign agents for lobbying work they did on behalf of the pro-Russian Ukrainian Party of Regions. Both have pleaded not guilty.
It was unclear when any new charges would be announced publicly.
Last Friday, Mueller’s office revealed in a court filing that it had uncovered “additional criminal conduct” by Manafort in connection with a series of “bank frauds and bank fraud conspiracies” related to a mortgage on his property in Fairfax, Virginia, a Washington suburb.
The Special Counsel’s office declined to comment on the new court filing. Attorneys for Manafort and Gates could not be immediately reached for comment. A spokesman for Manafort declined to comment.
Mueller is probing Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election, whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia and whether the Republican president has unlawfully sought to obstruct the investigation. Russia denies the allegations. Trump denies any collusion.
Manafort has been under house arrest since he was charged. He and prosecutors have struggled to agree on bail terms to permit him to leave his home, though some of those details have remained under seal.
However, on Friday, Mueller’s office revealed that it is concerned about alleged bank fraud in connection with one of the properties that Manafort pledged as collateral.
In Friday’s filing, prosecutors claimed that Manafort secured his mortgage from the Chicago-based Federal Savings Bank by doctoring profit and loss statements from his lobbying firm and “overstating its income by millions of dollars.”
Prosecutors said they plan to offer the court more evidence about the alleged misconduct at the next bail hearing.
The Federal Savings Bank is led by Stephen Calk, who served on a Trump campaign economic advisory panel. Calk did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mueller on Tuesday stepped up pressure on Manafort and Gates to cooperate in his investigation, unsealing a criminal charge against a Dutch lawyer, Alex van der Zwaan, for lying to Mueller’s investigators.
The charge arises from work that van der Zwaan, the son-in-law of one of Russia’s richest men, did on a 2012 report about the trial of Ukraine’s former prime minister while he was employed as a lawyer at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.
The report was used to justify the pre-trial detention of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko by her rival, and Manafort’s client, pro-Russian former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Manafort and Gates lobbied in connection with the rollout of the report, and are accused by Mueller’s office of facilitating secret payments for the report through offshore bank accounts.
Mueller’s office last Friday also indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies for their alleged involvement in a criminal and espionage conspiracy to tamper in the 2016 US presidential campaign to support Trump and disparage Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.