The conspiracy and money laundering charges against former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort raise new questions about a mysterious pro-Russia change to the Republican Party platform made at the 2016 GOP convention in Cleveland.
Manafort, along with business associate Rick Gates, were indicted Monday as part of the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Both Trump and Manafort denied having anything to do with the last-minute change to the party platform. But the financial benefits Manafort received from pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine, as detailed in the charges against him, intensifies the skepticism that has long surrounded his denial.
The 12-count grand jury indictment alleges that Manafort and Gates “generated tens of millions of dollars in income” as a result of their lobbying for pro-Russian interests in Ukraine.
“In order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities, from approximately 2006 through at least 2016, Manafort and Gates laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts,” the indictment says.
In total, $75 million flowed through Manafort and Gates’ offshore accounts, according to the indictment. Manafort allegedly laundered $18 million, while Gates allegedly laundered $3 million.
The change to the GOP platform dropped a call for the U.S. to provide arms to Ukraine in response to aggressive moves by Russia that included the occupation and eventual annexation of the Crimea province from Ukraine in 2014. After the annexation, Russian President Vladimir Putin continued to fuel violent unrest in other parts of the Ukraine.
The amendment to the Republican platform came as a surprise just days before Trump was officially nominated for president at the party’s convention. Two Republican National Committee officials privately acknowledged at the time that Trump’s campaign pushed for the change. Trump denied involvement, however.
“I wasn’t involved in that. Honestly, I was not involved,” Trump said.
After months of internal debate, the Trump administration is stalled on whether to arm Ukraine to counter Russian continued aggression, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.