‘Conspiracy Against the United States’

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On Monday, the FBI revealed charges against a Trump campaign foreign policy advisor, George Papadopolous.

Boiled down, the 17-page charge sheet shows Papadopolous’s many attempts to set up meetings between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Trump’s campaign knew about the Russian scheme to sabotage the election, and collaborated to maximise their own chance of victory.

Dates are key: the indictment shows that at least part of the Trump campaign are believed to have learned about the Russian hacking and election interference in April 2016, months before the hacking was even made public. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, charged with the investigation, has assembled the case against Papadolopous with forensic and comprehensive precision: specific dates, quotes from emails and messages between Trump campaign members and Russian officials.

Papadopolous, however, has not been charged with high crimes. Why? He has cut a deal with the FBI, and has confirmed all of the above treasonous behaviour. Despite the extraordinary detail of his indictment, he will only be prosecuted for lying to the FBI in a January interview.

His arrest in July and plea deal in October was all kept secret: according to the FBI, public knowledge would ‘undermine Papadopolous’s ability to serve as a proactive witness’ – jargon for wearing a wire.

It was also revealed on Monday that Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort has been charged with, among other high crimes, ‘Conspiracy against the United States’. As the political agent of the Kremlin-backed oligarchy in Ukraine, Manafort made millions of dollars in blood money over two decades, cycled through a gargantuan ($75,000,000) money-laundering operation.

As part of this scheme, Manafort concealed that he was an agent of Ukraine’s Party of Regions, forming one of the other items of the indictment, ‘Failing to Register as a Foreign Agent’. Manafort’s political methods in the 2010 Ukrainian Presidential Election (in which he helped get the pro-Kremlin candidate elected) – manufactured news reports, paid protesters, and social media botnets, and deliberate attempts to rile ethic tensions – should ring a bell. All were used, or are alleged to have been used, by Trump’s campaign (another pro-Kremlin candidate).

Manafort’s history as a fixer for hire is nothing new. What Monday’s indictment makes clear, through the sheer level of detail, is that both Manafort and Papadolous have been watched for some time. The Kremlin’s game to influence the election was observed, by either American or allied intelligence agencies.

Mueller has Trump’s whole gang cold. Monday’s indictments are just the beginning.

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French and History student, in my final year at Southampton. Mainly international issues, but honestly I've opinions on everything. Tweeting at @johndparnell

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