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U.S. Special Counsel Files New Charges Against Ex-Trump Aides

Paul Manafort (R) and Rick Gates
Paul Manafort (R) and Rick Gates

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. special counsel investigating alleged Russian interference in U.S. politics has filed updated criminal charges against two former top campaign aides of President Donald Trump.

The grand jury indictment, released on February 22, is the latest move in Robert Mueller's spreading investigation of interactions between Trump associates and Russian-linked officials.

Paul Manafort, who was fired as Trump’s campaign manager in August 2016, and his deputy, Rick Gates, had initially been hit with conspiracy, fraud, and other charges last year. Most of the charges stem from consulting and lobbying work Manafort did for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.

Both had pleaded not guilty to the initial charges, filed in October.

The new charges, which include tax evasion and financial fraud, seem to indicate a tough approach by Mueller, who has reportedly been seeking the cooperation of both Manafort and Gates in the investigation.

A spokesman for Manafort said he was "innocent" and "confident" that he would be acquitted of all the new charges.

Manafort and Gates are among a growing number of people indicted by Mueller's team. Mueller has secured guilty pleas on related charges from four people, including Trump’s ex-national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Earlier this week, a London-based lawyer pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about his communications with Gates.

With reporting by AP