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Former Trump Campaign Chairman Manafort Surrenders To Authorities Over Russia Probe


U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort (file photo)

U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has surrendered to federal authorities in connection with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion by associates of Trump.

Manafort arrived at the FBI's Washington field office on October 30. He arrived shortly after The New York Times and CNN, citing unnamed sources, reported that Manafort and a former business associate, Rick Gates, were told to turn themselves in to federal authorities.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) said in a statement that Manafort and Gates were indicted by a federal grand jury on 12 counts including "conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA [Foreign Agents Registration Act] statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts."

The charges are the first from the Mueller investigation. The former FBI director was appointed as special counsel in May to lead the Justice Department's investigation, which is being conducted in parallel with U.S. congressional probes.

The Associated Press, citing unidentified sources it said were familiar with the matter, reported that Gates also turned himself in and that the two were expected in court later on October 30 to face charges brought by Mueller's team.

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Manafort had been under investigation for possible violations of federal tax law, money laundering, and possible failure to appropriately disclose foreign lobbying. The Wall Street Journal reported that the charges would include tax fraud.

U.S. intelligence officials concluded in January that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an "influence campaign" targeting the 2016 election in the United States, aiming to undermine confidence in U.S. democracy, tarnish the reputation of Trump's rival Hillary Clinton, and help Trump.

The charges would be the first from the investigation by Mueller, who was appointed as special counsel in May to lead the Justice Department's probe.

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The White House has declined to comment on the reports.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, speaking on the program Fox And Friends shortly before the reports surfaced, shrugged them off.

Conway, referring to earlier reports that charges were coming, said "we don't even know that it has anything to do with the campaign."

Russia denies meddling in the election, despite substantial evidence. Trump, who won the election on November 8, denies there was any collusion between his associates and Moscow.

As part of his probe, Mueller has scrutinized Manafort’s role in the Trump campaign as well as his dealings in Ukraine.

Manafort stepped down as Trump's election campaign chief in August 2016, following reports about his lobbying work for a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party and failure to register as a foreign agent. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Manafort has handed over files to the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate and House Intelligence Committees for their respective Russia investigations.

The files reportedly include notes he took during a meeting with Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, and a Russian lawyer in June 2016.

Reports said e-mails from Trump Jr. show that the meeting was set up to discuss potentially damaging information about Clinton.

With reporting by CNN, The New York Times, Reuters, AP, and AFP

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