Trump resists mounting pressure from Bannon and others to fight Mueller – Washington Post

Debate intensified in President Trump’s political circle Tuesday over how aggressively to confront special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, dividing some of the president’s advisers and loyalists as the Russia investigation enters a new phase following charges against three former Trump campaign officials.

Despite his growing frustration with a federal probe he has roundly dismissed, Trump has been cooperating with Mueller and lately has resisted attacking him directly, at the urging of his attorneys inside and outside the White House.

But several prominent Trump allies, including former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, have said they think the president’s posture is too timid. Seeing the investigation as a political threat, they are clamoring for a more combative approach to Mueller that would damage his credibility and effectively kneecap his operation by cutting its funding.

Still, Bannon and others are not advising Trump to fire Mueller, a rash move that the president’s lawyers and political advisers oppose and insist is not under consideration.

Bannon in recent days has spoken with Trump by phone to relay his concerns about the president’s position and to counsel a shift in strategy, according to three people with knowledge of the conversation. The president — so far — has not accepted Bannon’s advice, these people said.

Bannon’s view has been amplified elsewhere on the right, with talk radio and cable news commentators speaking out more forcefully against Mueller and his expanding probe. The Wall Street Journal editorial board has called on Mueller to resign. The Journal is part of News Corp., which is led by Rupert Murdoch, a friend of Trump who speaks privately with the president.

But many people in Trump’s orbit recommend that he stay the course with cooperation — encouraging him to harshly criticize media coverage of the investigation but avoid engaging Mueller.

“I like Steve, but his advice is not always the most helpful,” said Christopher Ruddy, a Trump friend and the chief executive of Newsmax, a conservative media outlet. “In this case, whatever Steve says, the president should do the opposite.”

[Three former Trump campaign officials charged by special counsel]

The tensions extend to Capitol Hill, where Republican lawmakers have mostly split into two camps: those who are wary of weighing in on Mueller’s investigation and those who see it as a prime political target.

Bannon is demanding that GOP leaders move swiftly to end congressional probes into Russian interference, undermine Mueller’s investigation and increase scrutiny on Democratic controversies.

“The Republicans are like church mice,” Bannon said Tuesday. “No support of the president. Totally gutless. The Hill needs to step up.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said he believes that Republicans should proceed carefully, and he called Mueller a “very ethical person.”

“I don’t know how you could improve things by interfering,” Grassley said. “The process just ought to go.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a trusted Trump ally, has launched an investigation into an Obama-era uranium deal and is preparing to invite witnesses this week to testify about the FBI’s handling of Russia investigations. Nunes intends to issue subpoenas if people decline to appear, according to people briefed on his plans.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, an informal Trump adviser who praised Mueller earlier this year after his appointment as special counsel, said he has slowly “soured” on the former FBI director and agrees that Congress should put a harsher national spotlight on him.

“Mueller ought to be held accountable,” Gingrich said.

He ticked through a series of what he considers questionable moves by Mueller and his team, including their handling of former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, whom the government described in an indictment unsealed Monday as a “proactive cooperator.”

“Congress should look seriously at whether Mueller put a wire on this guy and sent him around to entrap people,” Gingrich said. “If that happened, Congress better see the full transcripts, not just the FBI’s edited versions. Congress should also ask why they’re raiding [former campaign chairman Paul] Manafort’s home at 5 a.m. for a white-collar crime from a few years ago.”

This sentiment is not heard at the White House, however, where officials have been careful not to antagonize the special counsel.

“Our approach has been to be cooperative and responsive and to see this come to a quick conclusion,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “Have we been aggressive in our comments and our feelings towards the Clinton campaign and the DNC? Yes. But that’s where our aggression is seen and nowhere else.”

Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer overseeing Russia matters, said after Monday’s indictments of Manafort and his longtime deputy, Rick Gates, “Nothing about today’s events alters anything related to our engagement with the special counsel, with whom we continue to cooperate.”

Cobb added, “There are no discussions and there is no consideration being given to terminating Mueller.”

Republicans in Congress said Trump is wise to avoid messing with Mueller.

“There would be an uprising at the Capitol like never seen before if any kind of interference looked like it was taking place,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). “Regardless of which side of the aisle. That’s just beyond the pale.”

[Upstairs at home, with the TV on, Trump fumes over Russia indictments]

Among Republicans, there is broad agreement to bring attention to past controversies involving Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent in the 2016 election, that have animated hourly discussions on Fox News Channel and conservative talk radio programs.

The White House and allies have waged a public relations battle over the Clinton campaign’s and the Democratic National Committee’s funding of research that resulted in the famous dossier that details Trump’s alleged connections to Russia.

The dossier has become a lightning rod, with congressional Republican leaders trying to discredit Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned the dossier, and the document’s author, Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the U.S. intelligence community.

Republicans also are trying to bring scrutiny to a 2010 uranium deal approved by the Obama administration, while Clinton was secretary of state. The deal — which Trump used as a political cudgel against Clinton during the campaign — allowed a Russian nuclear energy agency to acquire a controlling stake in a Canadian-based company that had mining licenses for about 20 percent of U.S. uranium extraction capacity, although the company cannot export uranium.

Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity, a Trump confidant, decried the lack of investigative attention on Clinton, a point the president and his top aides have made in recent days.

“This is not hyperbole,” Hannity said Monday night in his on-air monologue, which the president is known to watch regularly. “I am not overstating the case. We are at a major crisis point in America tonight. Do we have equal justice under the law in this country today?”

Some Republican lawmakers have heeded these calls. House and Senate GOP leaders have announced two investigations into the uranium deal, while at least three congressional committees are continuing to look into how the FBI handled Clinton’s email scandal.

But there appears to be little appetite for legislation that would cut Mueller’s funding or otherwise limit the scope of his investigation, something various Trump allies have suggested is necessary.

“My basic philosophy is, once you have an independent counsel, you ought to give him a chance to follow the facts,” said Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the chairman of the subcommittee that handles the Justice Department’s funding. “If somebody’s doing a job, you don’t want to cut it off.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said: “The idea that Bob Mueller is going to have the scope of his inquiry constrained, or be otherwise restricted, is really out there. I think that’s extremely unlikely.”

Karoun Demirjian and Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.

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Truck attack in Manhattan being investigated as terrorism, sources say – CNN

Multiple law enforcement sources say the New York incident is being investigated as terrorism. Separately, four law enforcement sources said witnesses reported the suspect was yelling Allahu Akbar.
One law enforcement source said the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is taking over the lead of the investigation.
[Breaking news update, posted at 4:45 p.m. ET]
Six people are dead after a truck hit several people in a bike path, an NYPD official said.
The suspect, in a Home Depot rental truck, hopped a curb at West Houston Street and drove south on the West Street bike path on west side of West Side Highway, the official said.
The suspect hit a school bus and wrecked his truck, the official said. Four people were removed from the bus and they had minor injuries, the official said.
[Previous story, posted at 4:36 p.m. ET]
The driver of a truck drove the wrong way down the West Side Highway bike path for several blocks on the lower west side of Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon, striking people and leaving up to six people dead, according to two senior law enforcement sources at the New York Police Department.
The driver then exited the vehicle displaying imitation firearms and was shot by police, according to the NYPD. The individual is in police custody and is being taken to the hospital for treatment, sources at the NYPD said, adding that police are considering terrorism as part of the investigation.
There were several fatalities and numerous people injured, NYPD said in a tweet. Two senior law enforcement sources added that it appears to be deliberate act.
No others are being sought, the NYPD said. Police said to expect “many emergency personnel” in the area of Chambers Street and West Street on the lower west side of Manhattan.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo both said they are heading to the scene.
News footage showed crowds of spectators — some capturing the scene with cellphone cameras — gathered behind police lines. A white Home Depot truck with the front end smashed in was also visible.
A wrecked pickup truck on the street near the scene in Manhattan. A wrecked pickup truck on the street near the scene in Manhattan.
Parts of several mangled bicycles littered the popular bike path along the West Side Highway and the Hudson River, as medics tended to the wounded in the background.

Witness accounts

Parts of mangled bikes were strewn on the ground in Manhattan on Tuesday.Parts of mangled bikes were strewn on the ground in Manhattan on Tuesday.
Michael Corbin, the assistant real estate manager for District Council 37, the city’s largest public employee union, was standing outside the union’s lower Manhattan offices attending to a woman who slipped and fell on the sidewalk.
“The first responder to the event was a counterterrorism officer,” he said. “We were attending to the victim, getting her onto a stretcher and, at that moment, we heard gunshots. I recalled hearing five gunshots in quick succession and immediately the officer … left to investigate the situation from the direction we heard the noise coming from.”
Another witness, Ramon Cruz, described what he saw.
“What I saw was that the driver — he didn’t look like he was bleeding,” said Cruz. “He was dragging his foot. He looks frustrated, panicked, confused. People are running past me, saying, ‘He’s got a gun. He’s got a gun.” I didn’t see any gun.
It was a white pickup truck. He looked pretty bad without bleeding or anything like that. I didn’t see him hit anybody. All I heard was the impact of a crash.”
Tuesday afternoon on Twitter, a user posted an image of a person lying on the ground near the scene of an incident near West & Chambers Streets in Manhattan.

CNN’s Jessica Schneider and Shimon Prokupecz contributed to this report.

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Russian Influence Reached 126 Million Through Facebook Alone – New York Times

WASHINGTON — Russian agents intending to sow discord among American citizens disseminated inflammatory posts that reached 126 million users on Facebook, published more than 131,000 messages on Twitter and uploaded over 1,000 videos to Google’s YouTube service, according to copies of prepared remarks from the companies that were obtained by The New York Times.

The detailed disclosures, sent to Congress on Monday by companies whose products are among the most widely used on the internet, came before a series of congressional hearings this week into how third parties used social networks and online services to influence millions of Americans before the 2016 presidential election.

The new information goes far beyond what the companies have revealed in the past and underline the breadth of the Kremlin’s efforts to lever open divisions in the United States using American technology platforms, especially Facebook. Multiple investigations of Russian meddling have loomed over the first 10 months of Mr. Trump’s presidency, with one leading to the indictments of Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chief, and others on Monday.

In its prepared remarks sent to Congress, Facebook said the Internet Research Agency, a shadowy Russian company linked to the Kremlin, had posted roughly 80,000 pieces of divisive content that was shown to about 29 million people between January 2015 and August 2017. Those posts were then liked, shared and followed by others, spreading the messages to tens of millions more people. Facebook also said it had found and deleted more than 170 accounts on its photo-sharing app Instagram; those accounts had posted about 120,000 pieces of Russia-linked content.

Previously, Facebook had said it identified more than $100,000 in advertisements paid for by the Internet Research Agency.

The Russia-linked posts were “an insidious attempt to drive people apart,” Colin Stretch, the general counsel for Facebook who will appear at the hearings, said in his prepared remarks. He called the posts “deeply disturbing,” and noted they focused on race, religion, gun rights, and gay and transgender issues.

Facebook, Mr. Stretch said, was “determined to prevent it from happening again.”

The new information also illuminated when Facebook knew there had been Russian interference on its platform. Several times before the election last Nov. 8, Facebook said its security team discovered threats targeted at employees of the major American political parties from a group called APT28, an agency that United States law enforcement officials have previously linked to Russian military intelligence operations.

Facebook cautioned that the Russia-linked posts represented a minuscule amount of content compared with the billions of posts that flow through users’ News Feeds everyday. Between 2015 and 2017, people in the United States saw more than 11 trillion posts from Pages on Facebook.

Twitter, in its prepared remarks, said it had discovered more than 2,700 accounts on its service that were linked to the Internet Research Agency between September 2016 and November 2016. Those accounts, which Twitter has suspended, posted roughly 131,000 tweets over that period.

Outside of the activity of the Internet Research Agency, Twitter identified more than 36,000 automated accounts that posted 1.4 million election-related tweets linked to Russia over that three-month period. The tweets received approximately 288 million views, according to the company’s remarks.

Twitter noted that the 1.4 million Russia-linked election tweets represented less than three-quarters of one percent of all election-related tweets during that period.

Google, in its prepared statement, said it had also found evidence that the Internet Research Agency bought ads on its services and created YouTube channels to upload short videos about divisive social issues including law enforcement, race relations or Syria.

Google said it had found 18 channels that were “likely associated” with the Russian agents that posted political videos to YouTube. All told, those accounts — now suspended — uploaded more than 1,100 videos totaling 43 hours of content from 2015 through the summer of 2017. Google said, in general, those videos had very low view counts that added up to 309,000 views between the middle of 2015 and late 2016. Only three percent of the videos had more than 5,000 views and there was no evidence that the accounts had targeted American viewers, the company said.

The internet search giant also confirmed earlier reports that the Internet Research Agency had purchased search and display ads from it. Google said the group had bought $4,700 in ads but none of them had targeted users by their political leanings, which was a targeting tool that Google added before the election.

Google had been investigating a separate $53,000 in ad purchases with political material from Russian internet or building addresses, but discovered that those were not related to the Kremlin.

“While we found only limited activity on our services, we will continue to work to prevent all of it, because no amount of interference is acceptable,” wrote Richard Salgado, Google’s director of law enforcement and information security, and Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel. The two men were scheduled to testify at separate congressional committees on Tuesday and Wednesday.

For Facebook, Google and Twitter, the discovery of Russian influence by way of their sites has been a rude awakening. The companies had long positioned themselves as spreading information and connecting people for positive ends. Now the companies must grapple with how Russian agents used their technologies exactly as they were meant to be used — but for malevolent purposes.

That has led to thorny debates inside the companies. For Facebook, the problem is less straightforward than finding Russia-linked pages and taking down content. Executives worry about how stifling speech from non-American entities could set a precedent on the social network — and how it could potentially be used against other groups in the future.

So Facebook has focused on the issue of authenticity — or the fact that the Russian agencies did not identify themselves as such — as a reason for taking down the accounts.

“Many of these ads did not violate our content policies,” Elliot Schrage, vice president of policy and communications at Facebook, said in a company blog post earlier this month. “That means that for most of them, if they had been run by authentic individuals, anywhere, they could have remained on the platform.”

Earlier this month, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner introduced a bipartisan bill to require internet companies to identify those who paid for political ads on the tech companies’ platforms.

Facebook has been promoting its strengthened advertising disclosure policies as an attempt to pre-empt the bipartisan bill. Last week, Facebook began rolling out new features that provide insight into who is paying for ads, and it will maintain a publicly viewable database of ads purchased on the network.

The company is also stepping up its counterintelligence and security measures. Facebook has said it is working with Twitter, Google and other companies to spot sophisticated threats earlier, and will continue to coordinate with law enforcement when appropriate. The company said it shuttered 5.8 million fake accounts in October 2016, and removed 30,000 accounts attempting to influence the French elections this year.

Google also said it plans to increase its transparency for political ads. The company is working to issue an annual report about who is buying political ads and how much they are spending.

The company also said it planned to create a publicly accessible database into what election ads ran on Google’s AdWords — for example, web search ads — and YouTube. Google said it will identify the advertisers paying for political ads within a link accessible from the ad.

But Google said it did not intend to take any further action against state-backed Russian news channel RT, which has built a massive online audience through YouTube. The American intelligence community has described RT as the Kremlin’s “principal international propaganda outlet”, but Google said the organization had not violated any of its policies or misused the service.

Last week, by contrast, Twitter said it would ban RT and Sputnik, another Kremlin-backed news organization, from advertising on its service.

Mike Isaac reported from Washington and Daisuke Wakabayashi from San Francisco.

Follow Mike Isaac on Twitter @MikeIsaac and Daisuke Wakabayashi @daiwaka

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Upstairs at home, with the TV on, Trump fumes over Russia indictments – Washington Post

President Trump woke before dawn on Monday and burrowed in at the White House residence to wait for the Russia bombshell he knew was coming.

Separated from most of his West Wing staff — who fretted over why he was late getting to the Oval Office — Trump clicked on the television and spent the morning playing fuming media critic, legal analyst and crisis communications strategist, according to several people close to him.

The president digested the news of the first indictments in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe with exasperation and disgust, these people said. He called his lawyers repeatedly. He listened intently to cable news commentary. And, with rising irritation, he watched live footage of his onetime campaign adviser and confidant, Paul Manafort, turning himself in to the FBI.

Initially, Trump felt vindicated. Though frustrated that the media were linking him to the indictment and tarnishing his presidency, he cheered that the charges against Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, were focused primarily on activities that began before his campaign. Trump tweeted at 10:28 a.m., “there is NO COLLUSION!”

But the president’s celebration was short-lived. A few minutes later, court documents were unsealed showing that George Papadopoulos, an unpaid foreign policy adviser on Trump’s campaign, pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI about his efforts to broker a relationship between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The case provides the clearest evidence yet of links between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.

For a president who revels in chaos — and in orchestrating it himself — Monday brought a political storm that Trump could not control. White House chief of staff John F. Kelly, along with lawyers Ty Cobb, John Dowd and Jay Sekulow, advised Trump to be cautious with his public responses, but they were a private sounding board for his grievances, advisers said.

“This has not been a cause of great agita or angst or activity at the White House,” said Cobb, the White House lawyer overseeing Russia matters. He added that Trump is “spending all of his time on presidential work.”

[Three former Trump campaign officials charged by special counsel]

But Trump’s anger Monday was visible to those who interacted with him, and the mood in the corridors of the White House was one of weariness and fear of the unknown. As the president groused upstairs, many staffers — some of whom have hired lawyers to help them navigate Mueller’s investigation — privately speculated about where the special counsel might turn next.

“The walls are closing in,” said one senior Republican in close contact with top staffers who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly. “Everyone is freaking out.”

Trump is also increasingly agitated by the expansion of Mueller’s probe into financial issues beyond the 2016 campaign and about the potential damage to him and his family.

This portrait of Trump and his White House on a day of crisis is based on interviews with 20 senior administration officials, Trump friends and key outside allies, many of whom insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive internal matters.

Trump and his aides were frustrated that, yet again, Russia steamrolled the start of a carefully planned week of policy news. Trump is preparing to nominate a new chairman of the Federal Reserve and is scheduled to depart Friday for a high-stakes, 12-day trip across Asia, and House Republicans are planning to unveil their tax overhaul bill.

“I’d like to start the briefing today by addressing a topic that I know all of you are preparing to ask me about, and that’s tax reform,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at Monday afternoon’s news briefing. It was a lighthearted prelude to a question-and-answer session immediately overtaken by queries about the indictments.

Away from the podium, Trump staffers fretted privately over whether Manafort or Gates might share with Mueller’s team damaging information about other colleagues. They expressed concern in particular about Gates because he has a young family, may be more stretched financially than Manafort, and continued to be involved in Trump’s political operation and had access to the White House, including attending West Wing meetings after Trump was sworn in.

Some White House advisers are unhappy with Thomas J. Barrack Jr., Trump’s longtime friend and chair of his inauguration, whom they hold responsible for keeping Gates in the Trump orbit long after Manafort resigned as campaign chairman in August 2016, according to people familiar with the situation. Barrack has been Gates’s patron of late, steering political work to him and, until Monday, employing him as director of the Washington office of his real estate investment company.

Trump and his aides tried to shrug off the ominous headlines, decorating the South Portico of the White House in black bats and faux spider webs to welcome costumed children for Halloween trick-or-treating. As the sun set on Monday, the president and first lady Melania Trump handed out goody bags to little princesses and pirates.

[Mueller’s moves send message to other potential targets: Beware, I’m coming]

The Russia drama has been distracting and damaging for Trump — from a public relations perspective if not, eventually, a legal one. The president’s inner circle on Russia matters has tightened in recent months. In addition to his lawyers, Trump has been talking mostly with Kelly and members of his family, including Melania, as well as daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, both senior White House advisers. Trump also leans on two senior aides, counselor Kellyanne Conway and communications director Hope Hicks, as well as some outside friends for advice.

Still, Trump has little ability to influence the ongoing Russia probe save for firing Mueller — the sort of rash decision that his lawyers insisted Monday he is not considering.

“Nothing about today’s events alters anything related to our engagement with the special counsel, with whom we continue to cooperate,” Cobb said. “There are no discussions and there is no consideration being given to terminating Mueller.”

Sekulow, one of Trump’s outside lawyers, said: “There’s no firing-Robert-Mueller discussions.”

Asked whether Trump is considering pardons for Manafort or Gates, Cobb said, “No, no, no. That’s never come up and won’t come up.”

On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, some of Trump’s allies are privately revving up their own version of a counterattack against Mueller. Several top Republican legislators plan to raise questions in the coming days about the FBI’s handling of a “dossier” detailing alleged ties between Trump and Russian interests. They intend to argue that Mueller’s team has become overly reliant on a document that was funded in part by Democrats, according to two people involved in the discussions. Mueller does not appear to have relied on the dossier for the cases revealed on Monday, however.

For Trump and his team, the bad news began as disconcerting drips last Friday, when CNN first reported that indictments were probably coming Monday. The only question: of whom?

The White House had no inside information beyond what was public in news reports, officials said, and were left to scramble and speculate as to what might happen. Reliable information was hard to come by, as Trump’s team was scattered. Cobb was at his home in South Carolina until Monday afternoon, while Trump spent much of Saturday at his private golf club in Virginia and went out to dinner with Melania and their son, Barron, at the Trump International Hotel’s steakhouse in Washington.

Among the many unknowns, the Trump team arrived at an educated guess that Manafort was likely to be indicted — in part, according to one White House aide, because they heard that television news crews were preparing to stake out Manafort’s Virginia home.

“This wasn’t a shocking development,” Sekulow said.

[As Russia case unfolds, Trump and Republicans go to battle with Clinton and Democrats]

When the first pair of indictments came naming Manafort and Gates, there was palpable relief inside the West Wing. The 31-page document did not name Trump, nor did it address any possible collusion between Russia and the president’s campaign.

Moreover, aides were simply happy that the initial batch of indictments did not include Michael Flynn, Trump’s former and controversial national security adviser, who was fired from his top White House perch after misleading Vice President Pence about his contacts with Russian officials. Flynn had been intimately involved in both the campaign and the early days of the administration, and a Flynn indictment, most staff believed, would have been far more damaging.

The indictment of Gates — who had played a quiet, behind-the-scenes role in Trump’s orbit — was more of a surprise, though he had served as Manafort’s campaign deputy and protege. Trump’s team quickly settled on a messaging plan: The duo’s alleged misdeeds, the White House argued, had nothing to do with the president or his campaign.

Privately, aides and allies acknowledged that the campaign had perhaps not sufficiently vetted the two men before bringing them on board.

Michael Caputo, a former campaign adviser who Trump praised on Twitter Monday morning for his appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends,” later called the indictments “one big, huge fail.”

“Rick and Paul, I would consider them friends of the president because they worked so closely with him,” Caputo said. “The president’s watching closely and he should be concerned for his friends’ welfare, but he has absolutely no concern about collusion with Russia because there was none.”

On Sunday, Trump had attempted to seek refuge from the political squall with another round of golf at his Virginia club. Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) were set to join him, according to two people briefed on the plans — an afternoon of camaraderie and talk about his tax proposal.

It was not to be. Rainy weather forced the White House to cancel the outing — yet another disappointment, beyond the president’s control.

John Wagner contributed to this report.

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Paul Manafort, Once of Trump Campaign, Indicted as an Adviser Admits to Lying About Ties to Russia – New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was indicted Monday on charges that he funneled millions of dollars through overseas shell companies and used the money to buy luxury cars, real estate, antiques and expensive suits.

The charges against Mr. Manafort and his longtime associate Rick Gates represent a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over Mr. Trump’s first year in office.

The two men appeared in the Federal District Court in Washington on Monday afternoon and pleaded “not guilty” to all charges.

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The podcast that makes sense of the most delirious stretch of the 2016 campaign.

Separately, one of the early foreign policy advisers to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about a contact with a professor with ties to Kremlin officials, prosecutors said on Monday.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was assigned in May to investigate whether anyone close to Mr. Trump participated in a Russian government effort to influence last year’s presidential election. Monday’s indictments indicate that Mr. Mueller has taken an expansive view of his mandate.

The indictment of Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates makes no mention of Mr. Trump or election meddling. Instead, it describes in granular detail Mr. Manafort’s lobbying work in Ukraine and what prosecutors said was a scheme to hide that money from tax collectors and the public. The authorities said Mr. Manafort laundered more than $18 million.

“Manafort used his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States without paying taxes on that income,” the indictment reads.

Mr. Gates is accused of transferring more than $3 million from offshore accounts. The two are also charged with making false statements.

“As part of the scheme, Manafort and Gates repeatedly provided false information to financial bookkeepers, tax accountants and legal counsel, among others,” the indictment read.

Mr. Papadopoulos admitted that in a January interview with the F.B.I., he lied about his contacts with a Russian professor, whom he knew to have “substantial connections to Russian government officials,” according to court documents. Mr. Papadopoulos told the authorities that the conversation occurred before he became an adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign. In fact, he met the professor days after joining the campaign.

The professor took interest in Mr. Papadopoulos “because of his status with the campaign,” the court documents said.

Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates surrendered to the F.B.I. early on Monday and, through their lawyers, pleaded not guilty to all charges on Monday. The two men, wearing dark blue suits, entered the courtroom with their hands held behind their backs. Money laundering, the most serious of the charges, carries a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Mr. Manafort has expected charges since this summer, when F.B.I. agents raided his home and prosecutors warned him that they planned to indict him. That warning raised speculation that Mr. Manafort might try to cut a deal to avoid prosecution. A senior White House lawyer, Ty Cobb, said last week that the president was confident that Mr. Manafort had no damaging information about him.

People close to Mr. Manafort, including his former business partner Roger J. Stone Jr., have said he had nothing to offer that would help prosecutors build a case against Mr. Trump.

“He’s not going to lie,” Mr. Stone said in September.

Mr. Gates is a longtime protégé and junior partner of Mr. Manafort. His name appears on documents linked to companies that Mr. Manafort’s firm set up in Cyprus to receive payments from politicians and businesspeople in Eastern Europe, records reviewed by The New York Times show.

Attempts to reach Mr. Gates on Monday were not successful. A spokesman for Mr. Manafort did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Manafort, a veteran Republican strategist, joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 to help keep delegates from breaking with Mr. Trump in favor of establishment Republican candidates. Mr. Trump soon promoted him to chairman and chief strategist, a job that gave him control over day-to-day operations of the campaign.

But Mr. Trump fired Mr. Manafort just months later, after reports that he received more than $12 million in undisclosed payments from Viktor F. Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president and a pro-Russia politician. Mr. Manafort spent years as a political consultant for Mr. Yanukovych.

American intelligence agencies have concluded that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia launched a stealth campaign of hacking and propaganda to try to damage Hillary Clinton and help Mr. Trump win the election. The Justice Department appointed Mr. Mueller III as special counsel in May to lead the investigation into the Russian operations and to determine whether anyone around Mr. Trump was involved.

Mr. Trump has denied any such collusion, and no evidence has surfaced publicly to contradict him. At the same time, Mr. Trump and his advisers this year repeatedly denied any contacts with Russians during the campaign, only to have journalists uncover one undisclosed meeting after another.

The New York Times revealed in July that Mr. Manafort and others close to Mr. Trump met with Russians last year, on the promise of receiving damaging political information about Mrs. Clinton.

Matt Apuzzo and Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

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Court partially blocks Trump’s transgender military ban – The Hill

A federal court has blocked President Trump in part from changing the military’s transgender policy as a case against his ban works its way through court.

A judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled Monday that Trump’s directive changing the transgender policy back to what it was before June 2016 and banning new transgender recruits from enlisting cannot be enforced while the case is being reviewed in court.

However, the judge denied the plaintiff’s motion to block the ban on funds for gender reassignment surgery.

In a 76-page memo accompanying the ruling, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed in their case arguing the transgender ban violates their Fifth Amendment right to due process.

“The court finds that a number of factors—including the sheer breadth of the exclusion ordered by the directives, the unusual circumstances surrounding the President’s announcement of them, the fact that the reasons given for them do not appear to be supported by any facts, and the recent rejection of those reasons by the military itself — strongly suggest that Plaintiffs’ Fifth Amendment claim is meritorious,” she wrote.

In July, Trump tweeted that he would ban transgender people from serving in the military in any capacity.

He made good on the tweets in August, signing a presidential memo that prohibits the military from enlisting transgender people and from using funds to pay for gender transition-related surgery. The memo also gave Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisPence to visit ICBM baseMcAfee stops allowing governments to review source codeTerror designation for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a necessary first stepMORE six months to determine what to do with transgender troops who are currently serving.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) sued in August on behalf of six unnamed service members and two recruits.

The government asked for the case to be dismissed, arguing that because Mattis is in the midst of the six-month review and has said no service member will be discharged in the interim, the plaintiffs have not been affected by the policy yet.

But Kollar-Kotelly ruled that while “perhaps compelling in the abstract,” the government’s arguments for dismissal “wither away under scrutiny.”

“The memorandum unequivocally directs the military to prohibit indefinitely the accession of transgender individuals and to authorize their discharge,” she wrote. “This decision has already been made. These directives must be executed by a date certain, and there is no reason to believe that they will not be executed. Plaintiffs have established that they will be injured by these directives, due both to the inherent inequality they impose, and the risk of discharge and denial of accession that they engender.”

But the plaintiffs did not establish that they would by harmed by the ban on funds for gender reassignment surgery, Kollar-Kotelly ruled. Therefore, she said, the court does not have jurisdiction to enjoin the aspect of Trump’s policy.

Still, she wrote, the plaintiffs are likely to succeed in their case against the accession and retention policies because the government’s arguments for the ban “appear to be hypothetical and extremely overbroad.”

“As far as the court is aware at this preliminary stage, all of the reasons proffered by the president for excluding transgender individuals from the military in this case were not merely unsupported, but were actually contradicted by the studies, conclusions and judgment of the military itself,” she added, referring to the military’s 2016 study done during the Obama administration that led to allowing open service by transgender troops.

Kollar-Kotelly also said the court has to consider the circumstances of Trump’s announcement — that is, the fact that it was made abruptly on Twitter.

“The President abruptly announced, via Twitter—without any of the formality or deliberative processes that generally accompany the development and announcement of major policy changes that will gravely affect the lives of many Americans—that all transgender individuals would be precluded from participating in the military in any capacity,” she wrote. “These circumstances provide additional support for plaintiffs’ claim that the decision to exclude transgender individuals was not driven by genuine concerns regarding military efficacy.”

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Towson University grad killed after boy jumps from overpass onto car in Virginia – Baltimore Sun

Police say a 12-year-old boy jumped from an overpass above Interstate 66 in northern Virginia and fell onto a car, killing the driver.

The incident took place Saturday afternoon in Fairfax County. Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said in a statement Sunday afternoon that the boy landed on a Ford Escape and the impact incapacitated the vehicle’s driver.

Geller says the driver of the Ford, 22-year-old Marisa W. Harris of Olney, died at the scene.

The statement says the front-seat passenger steered the vehicle off the interstate and the car came to a stop on the left shoulder. The front-seat passenger wasn’t hurt.

The boy was taken to a local hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries.

In a statement, Towson University spokesman Ray Feldmann said: “The entire Towson University family is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our alumna, Marisa Harris. Marisa was a caring, giving person who intended to devote her life to helping children in crisis. We also send our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of the injured 12-year-old boy. This is a horrific tragedy that will forever impact the lives of everyone who knew, loved and admired Marisa.”

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Three former Trump campaign officials charged by special counsel – Washington Post

Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III on Monday revealed charges against three former Trump campaign officials — former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his longtime business partner Rick Gates and former Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos — marking the first criminal allegations to come from probes into possible Russian influence in U.S. political affairs.

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty earlier this month to making a false statement to FBI investigators who asked about his contacts with a foreigner connected to Russian officials, and the agreement was unsealed Monday.

Manafort and Gates were charged in a 12-count indictment with conspiracy to launder money, making false statements and other charges stemming from probes into possible Russian influence in U.S. political affairs.

Manafort and Gates are expected to make their first court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson at 1:30 p.m. The special counsel revealed Papadopoulos’s plea shortly after the indictment was unsealed. He has been cooperating with investigators for months, according to a court filing.

The charges against Manafort and Gates did not reference the Trump campaign, a point President Trump noted on Twitter Monday. “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?????” Trump wrote.

“….Also, there is NO COLLUSION!” he said in a follow-up tweet.

The indictment of Manafort and Gates focused on their work advising a Russia-friendly political party in Ukraine. But the Papadopoulos matter relates to his time working on the campaign and involved alleged efforts to set up a meeting with Russian officials.

[Read the Manafort and Gates indictment]

The special counsel alleged that for nearly a decade Manafort and Gates laundered money through scores of U.S. and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts, and gave false statements to the Justice Department and others when asked about their work on behalf of a foreign entity.

All told, more than $75 million flowed through offshore accounts, the special counsel alleged. Manafort, the special counsel said, laundered more than $18 million, using his wealth acquired overseas to “enjoy a lavish lifestyle” in the United States, purchasing multi-million dollar properties and paying for home renovation.

Gates did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort. Manafort was spotted walking into the FBI’s Washington Field Office Monday morning.

Washington — especially those in political and media circles — had been anxiously anticipating the charges since CNN reported Friday night that a grand jury had approved the first charges in Mueller’s investigation.

Spokespeople for Mueller and the Justice Department declined to comment over the weekend. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment Monday, and a spokesman for the special counsel’s office did not return messages seeking comment.

According to the indictment, Manafort and Gates arranged to hire two Washington-based lobbying firms to work on behalf of their Ukrainian clients, arranging meetings with U.S. officials and boosting their public image in the United States.

Prosecutors say, however, that Manafort and Gates arranged for a Brussels-based nonprofit to nominally hire the companies to hide the fact that their work was for Ukrainian government officials and would otherwise require registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

In fact, prosecutors allege, Manafort was communicating directly with then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych about the effort, promising in 2012 to provide him weekly updates about the effort.

To further obscure Ukrainian involvement in the lobbying effort, prosecutors say payments to the Washington firms were routed through obscure offshore companies. Prosecutors say that when the Department of Justice approached Manafort and Gates in 2016 and 2017 about whether they should have registered as foreign agents for the work, they responded with false and misleading letters, indicating they had not directed the lobbying effort and asserting they did not hold records reflecting their work, even though later searches showed they did, according to the indictment.

Manafort and Gates also were accused of willfully and intentionally trying to hide monies kept in foreign bank accounts — Manafort from 2011 to 2014 and Gates from 2012 to 2014 . And Manafort was accused of filing fraudulent tax returns — stating on tax forms he filed from 2008 to 2014 that he controlled no foreign bank accounts.

The men made tens of millions of dollars for themselves, the special counsel alleged. From 2008 to 2014, according to the indictment, Manafort arranged to wire $12 million from offshore accounts to pay for personal expenses – including $5 million to a home renovation contractor in the Hamptons, more than $1.3 million to a home entertainment and lighting vendor based in Florida, $934,000 to an antique rug dealer in Alexandria, and $849,000 to a men’s clothier in New York.

While the men were set to first appear before a magistrate judge — as is normal — the case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, 63, a 2011 Barack Obama appointee.

Jackson worked as federal prosecutor in the District after graduating from Harvard Law School and specialized in complex criminal and civil trials and appeals at Trout Cacheris. While at the firm, she represented former Democratic congressman William J. Jefferson at his corruption trial, made famous by the $90,000 in bribe money stuffed into his freezer and a legal battle over the raid of his Washington office.

Jackson contributed $1,000 to Bill Clinton’s 1992 Democratic campaign.

Mueller was appointed in May to oversee the probe of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, taking over work that the FBI had begun in July 2016. Their interest in Manafort, though, dates back to at least 2014 — long before Mueller was appointed or Manafort was connected to the Trump campaign.

While Mueller’s probe has focused on Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, investigators have shown interest in a broad array of other topics.

Those include meetings the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow in December, and a June 2016 meeting at Trump tower involving the president’s son, Donald Jr., and a Russian lawyer. Mueller’s team has requested extensive records from the White House, covering areas including the president’s private discussions about firing James B. Comey as FBI director and his response to news that Flynn was under investigation, according to two people briefed on the requests.

Mueller is also investigating whether Trump obstructed justice leading up to Comey’s firing. His team has been actively presenting records and bringing witnesses before the grand jury in D.C. for the last three months.

[Special Counsel Mueller using grand jury in federal court in Washington as part of Russia investigation]

Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016, and Trump tapped him to serve as campaign chairman in May of that year. He left in August 2016, but Gates, his business partner and protege, continued to play an important role with the campaign even after Manafort’s departure. After the election Gates directed the inauguration plans, including fundraising, under Tom Barrack, Trump’s close friend and adviser.

FBI agents working for Mueller raided Manafort’s home in Alexandria in late July, armed with a search warrant that allowed them to enter at dawn without warning the occupants. Such an invasive search is only allowed after prosecutors have persuaded a federal judge that they have evidence of a crime and they have reasonable concern that key evidence could be destroyed or withheld.

Prosecutors also warned Manafort they planned to indict him, according to two people familiar with the exchange. People close to Manafort and Gates, though, said the indictment came as a surprise to both.

Though both men knew Mueller had been closely scrutinizing their behavior, they had expected some kind of alert when an indictment was imminent. Even over the weekend, they were telling people close to them that they had received no such notification and did not believe they were the subject of the seal charges.

The tactic might suggest Mueller hoped to use the element of surprise against the two men to potentially stun them into a desire to cooperate against other members of Trump’s team.

Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, said late Friday, “we are not commenting tonight.” A person familiar with Flynn’s defense said he, too, had received no notice of pending indictment.

Wayne Holland, a McEnearney Associates real estate agent who helped Manafort buy the condo in Alexandria, Va., that was raided by the FBI this summer, testified Oct. 20 before the grand jury in Mueller’s probe after he and his firm were unsuccessful in an effort to quash subpoenas, Holland said Friday.

Holland declined to discuss his testimony, first reported by Politico, but confirmed that an opinion unsealed Friday denied his and his firm’s motion to quash a subpoena by claiming real estate broker records are confidential under Virginia and District laws.

Devlin Barrett, Carol D. Leonnig, Sari Horwitz, Spencer S. Hsu, Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller and Adam Entous contributed to this report.

Read more:

Paul Manafort: A FAQ about Trump’s indicted former campaign chairman

With money laundering charges against Paul Manafort, Trump’s ‘fake news’ claim is harder to defend

As Russia case unfolds, Trump and Republicans go to battle with Clinton and Democrats

Who’s who in the government’s investigation into Russia ties

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Manafort, Gates charged with conspiracy against US – CNN

Gates, 45, is a longtime business associate of Manafort, 68, having worked together since the mid-2000s, and served as his deputy on the campaign. The two were indicted under seal on Friday, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.
The indictment against the two men contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.
The charges do not cover any activities related to the campaign, though it’s possible Mueller could add additional charges.
Manafort arrived at the FBI’s Washington field office Monday morning. The two are being processed separately, according to a law enforcement official. They will later be transported to federal district court in Washington later Monday morning.
The two are scheduled to make their initial court appearances before US District Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson at 1:30 p.m. ET Monday.
CNN has reached out to lawyers for Manafort and Gates.

Dramatic new development

The charges against two top officials from President Donald Trump’s campaign signals a dramatic new phase of Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and members of Trump’s team as well as potential obstruction of justice and financial crimes.
A White House spokesman told CNN the Trump administration “may not have a response at all” regarding the charges. But a source close to the White House said, “today has zero to do with the White House,” noting that the charges pertain to Manafort and Gates’ business dealings.
Gates, according to a source, accompanied Trump ally Tom Barrack to the White House several times this year.
Manafort, whose work for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has attracted scrutiny from federal investigators, has previously denied financial wrongdoing regarding his Ukraine-related payments, his bank accounts in offshore tax shelters and his various real-estate transactions over the years. Gates, who has also denied wrongdoing, was Manafort’s longtime business associate in his lobbying firm before being tapped as his deputy on the Trump campaign.
They are the first two officials in Trump’s orbit charged in connection with the special counsel investigation, which is exploring whether Trump’s actions surrounding the firing of former FBI Director James Comey amount to obstruction of justice. Mueller has taken a broad approach to his mandate that includes a focus on the financial dealings of Trump’s team.
Before the indictment, the FBI in July executed a so-called no-knock search warrant with guns drawn at Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Virginia, seizing financial and tax documents, including some that had already been provided to congressional investigators.

Manafort’s Ukraine work scrutinized

Federal investigators’ interest in Manafort and Gates goes back well before the special counsel was appointed. For about a decade, Manafort worked for Yanukovych and his Russia-friendly Party of Regions. Manafort’s work spurred a separate federal investigation in 2014, which examined whether he and other Washington-based lobbying firms failed to register as foreign agents for the Yanukovych regime.
Gates joined Manafort’s lobbying firm in the mid-2000s and handled projects in Eastern Europe, which later included work for Yanukovych.
Yanukovych was ousted amid street protests in 2014, and his pro-Russian Party of Regions was accused of corruption and laundering millions of dollars out of Ukraine. The FBI sought to learn whether those who worked for Yanukovych — Manafort’s firm, as well as Washington lobbying firms Mercury LLC and the Podesta Group — played a role. The Podesta Group is headed by Tony Podesta, the brother of John Podesta, the former chief of staff of the Obama White House.
At the time, the case hinged on the failure by the US firms to register under the FARA, a law the Justice Department rarely uses to bring charges. Earlier this year, all three firms filed retroactively with the Justice Department.
Gates once became involved in a failed business venture with Manafort and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to legal filings. The plan was for Deripaska to invest $100 million in a private equity company that Manafort and Gates would manage.
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The project fell apart, and Deripaska sued Manafort and Gates in the Cayman Islands for mishandling his money. Deripaska, a Russian citizen, has offered to cooperate with Capitol Hill investigations in exchange for immunity.
A secret order authorized by the court that handles the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) began after Manafort became the subject of an FBI investigation that began in 2014, sources previously told CNN. But the surveillance was discontinued last year due to lack of evidence.
Later in 2016, however, the FBI restarted the surveillance as part of its investigation into Russian meddling. Investigators’ interest in Manafort was reignited due to intercepted communications between Manafort and suspected Russian operatives, and among the Russians themselves, CNN has reported.
The investigation into Manafort intensified after Mueller was named as special counsel in May. Mueller has hired a team of prosecutors who have examined Manafort’s financial and tax history stretching back 11 years to January 2006, while he was working in Ukraine.

Running the Trump campaign

Manafort entered the Trump campaign orbit in early 2016, when he reached out to Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner and offered to work for free, according to The New York Times.
Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 to help with delegate counting ahead of the Republican National Convention, as some Republicans hoped to use arcane delegate procedures to wrest the nomination from Trump at the convention in Cleveland.
He soon was promoted to campaign chairman, and he became the top official on the campaign after then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was fired in June 2016.
His tenure didn’t last long.
The Times reported in August 2016 that Ukrainian investigators found Manafort’s name in an off-the-books, handwritten ledger detailing secret payments — including $12.7 million to Manafort from Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.
Manafort denied he had received any such payment and claims the ledger was forged. But just days later, he resigned from the campaign as the accusations swirling around him became a major distraction for Trump.
In addition to Manafort’s Ukraine business dealings, his real estate dealings, overseas business ventures and bank accounts in offshore havens like Cyprus have also come under scrutiny.
This story is breaking and will be updated.

CNN’s Pamela Brown, Jim Acosta, Jeremy Diamond and Joe Johns contributed to this report.

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Paul Manafort, Who Once Ran Trump Campaign, Surrenders to FBI – New York Times

WASHINGTON — Paul Manafort surrendered to federal authorities Monday morning, after a person close to the case said the first charges were filed in a special counsel investigation.

The charges against Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, were not immediately clear but represent a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over the president’s first year in office. Also charged was Mr. Manafort’s former business associate Rick Gates, who was also told to surrender on Monday, the person said.

Mr. Manafort walked into the F.B.I.’s field office in Washington at about 8:15 a.m. with his lawyer.

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Mr. Gates is a longtime protégé and junior partner of Mr. Manafort. His name appears on documents linked to companies that Mr. Manafort’s firm set up in Cyprus to receive payments from politicians and businesspeople in Eastern Europe, records reviewed by The New York Times show.

Mr. Manafort had been under investigation for violations of federal tax law, money laundering and whether he appropriately disclosed his foreign lobbying.

Attempts to reach Mr. Gates on Monday were not successful. A spokesman for Mr. Manafort did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Manafort has expected charges since this summer, when F.B.I. agents raided his home and prosecutors warned him that they planned to indict him. That warning raised speculation that Mr. Manafort might try to cut a deal to avoid prosecution.

Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Ty Cobb, said there were no concerns that Mr. Manafort would offer damaging information about the president in exchange for a deal.

Some close to Mr. Manafort, including his former business partner Roger J. Stone Jr., have said he had nothing to offer that would help prosecutors build a case against Mr. Trump.

“He’s not going to lie,” Mr. Stone said in September.

Mr. Manafort, a veteran Republican strategist, joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 to help keep delegates from breaking with Mr. Trump in favor of establishment Republican candidates. Mr. Trump soon promoted him to chairman and chief strategist, a job that gave him control over day-to-day operations of the campaign.

But Mr. Trump fired Mr. Manafort just months later, after reports that he received more than $12 million in undisclosed payments from Viktor F. Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president and a pro-Russia politician. Mr. Manafort spent years as a political consultant for Mr. Yanukovych.

American intelligence agencies have concluded that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia launched a stealth campaign of hacking and propaganda to try to damage Hillary Clinton and help Mr. Trump win the election. The Justice Department appointed Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel in May to lead the investigation into the Russian operations and to determine whether anyone around Mr. Trump was involved.

Mr. Trump has denied any such collusion, and no evidence has surfaced publicly to contradict him. At the same time, Mr. Trump and his advisers this year repeatedly denied any contacts with Russians during the campaign, only to have journalists uncover one undisclosed meeting after another.

The New York Times revealed in July that Mr. Manafort and others close to Mr. Trump met with Russians last year, on the promise of receiving damaging political information about Mrs. Clinton.

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