This year saw a bevy of indictments, guilty pleas, convictions, and jail time for various members of Trump's inner circle and campaign team.
Special counsel Robert Mueller had a busy year wreaking havoc on Trump's campaign team, causing Trump to lash out and melt down on a regular basis. The investigation into connections between Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia yielded massive results in 2018, including convictions or guilty pleas from five members of Trump's orbit.
No staffers from either of President Obama's campaigns, nor the Hillary Clinton campaign, are under investigation, nor have any pleaded guilty to criminal activity.
Here's a look at some of the major results Mueller has turned in thus far.
Charges, pleas, and convictions:
- Number of indictments: 36
- Number of Trump associates indicted: 5
- Number of companies indicted: 3
- Number of charges: 100+
- Number of people who have pleaded guilty (total): 6
- Number of Trump associates who have pleaded guilty: 5
- Number of Trump associates who have been found guilty: 1
- Special counsel Mueller's record on getting guilty pleas or convictions against Trump associates: 100 percent
Rap sheet of Trump associates who have been charged:
- Role: Trump's longtime personal lawyer and "fixer"
- Charges: Tax fraud, false statements to a financial institution, excessive campaign contributions, illegal corporate contributions, and lying to Congress.
- Outcome: On Aug. 21, Cohen pleaded guilty in New York to eight counts of tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, unlawful corporate contributions, and excessive campaign contributions. He said he was directed to violate campaign law at the direction of an unnamed candidate — meaning Trump.On Nov. 29, Cohen entered into a second plea agreement, this time with Mueller's team. Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Trump's business dealings with Russia, admitting that discussions between the Trump Organization and Russia continued into the summer of 2016, far into the election cycle.
- Up next: Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison, must forfeit $500,000 in assets, pay $1.4 million in restitution, and pay a fine of $50,000. Cohen will report to prison on March 6, 2019.
- Role: Former Trump campaign chairman
- Charges: Manafort is facing three separate indictments. One set of indictments, filed in October 2017 in Washington, D.C., includes charges of conspiracy, money laundering, false statements, and failure to disclose foreign assets, all stemming from his work for pro-Russia Ukrainian politicians. Another set of indictments, filed in February 2018 in Virginia, includes financial, tax, and bank fraud charges. A third set of indictments, filed on June 8, includes charges of obstructing justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice by using intimidation or force against a witness, and also tampering with a witness, victim or informant.
- Outcome: Manafort pleaded not guilty on all charges but was found guilty on Aug. 21 of eight federal counts, including five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failure to report foreign bank accounts. The jury failed to reach unanimous verdicts on 10 additional charges, so the judge in the case declared a mistrial on those 10 counts.On Sept. 14, Manafort entered a plea deal with Mueller to avoid a second jury trial, pleading guilty to two felony counts. Part of the deal included an agreement to cooperate with Mueller's investigations.In late November 2018, Mueller filed a motion with the court claiming Manafort violated his plea deal by repeatedly lying to the FBI and his team.
- Up next: Manafort's court appearance for sentencing is tentatively scheduled March 5, 2019.
- Role: Senior campaign aide for Trump and longtime business partner of Manafort. After joining the campaign in spring 2016, Gates was eventually promoted to Manafort's deputy campaign manager. He, along with Manafort, oversaw activities at the 2016 Republican National Convention on behalf of the Trump campaign. After Manafort left the campaign, Gates stayed on and ultimately ended up working on Trump's inaugural committee. He also helped raise millions of dollars for the pro-Trump group America First Policies.
- Charges: Initial charges were filed in October 2017, but in February 2018, a superseding indictment added new charges and replaced some of the original charges. A total of 23 charges were ultimately filed against Gates, including 11 counts of tax fraud, three counts of failing to file reports of foreign accounts, five counts of bank fraud conspiracy, and four counts of bank fraud.
- Outcome: In February 2018, Gates pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. Other charges, including money laundering, working as an unregistered foreign agent, and making other false statements, were dropped as part of a plea deal. To satisfy the conditions of his plea deal, Gates testified against Manafort in the Virginia case and confessed to committing a slew of crimes with his former business partner.
- Role: Former national security adviser and top Trump campaign adviser
- Charges: In late November 2017, Flynn was charged with one count of making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, which included discussions about sanctions on Russia.
- Outcome: Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to making false statements to the FBI as part of a plea deal. In December 2018, Mueller released his sentencing memorandum for Flynn, highlighting just how much Flynn has been cooperating with his investigation for the past year and recommending no jail time because of how helpful Flynn has been.
- Up next: Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced on March 13, 2019.
- Role: Trump campaign foreign policy adviser. According to documents that were unsealed as part of Mueller's investigation, Papadopoulos tried at least six times to set up a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
- Charges: One count of making false statements and omissions to the FBI.
- Outcome: He pleaded guilty in October 2017 to making false statements to the FBI about his interactions with Russian contacts, who included a Russian national who he described as "Putin's niece."
- Up next: Papadopoulos was sentenced to two weeks in prison, ordered to pay a $9,500 fine, and complete 200 hours of community service. Papadopoulos reported to prison on Nov. 26, 2018. After he left prison, Papadopolous announced may for Congress.
Other individuals who have been criminally charged:
Alexander Van Der Zwaan
- Role: Attorney and associate of Rick Gates.
- Charges: In February 2018, Van Der Zwaan was charged with one count of making false statements to the FBI about his interactions with Gates and Manafort. The indictment also alleges that Van Der Zwaan deleted and failed to turn over emails to investigators.
- Outcome: The Dutch lawyer pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI the same month he was charged. In April 2018, he became the first person sentenced to prison in the Russia investigation.
- Role: California resident and business owner who is accused of selling bank accounts to Russian agents.
- Charges: Pinedo was charged with count of identity fraud for transferring, possessing, and using the identities of other Americans in connection with unlawful activity. According to the charging documents, Pinedo operated a company that allowed internet users to get around security protocols set up by online payment sites like PayPal. As part of his scheme, he allegedly created bank accounts using fraudulent identities and then sold them to customers.
- Outcome: He pleaded guilty to identity fraud in February 2018. In October 2018, he was sentenced to six months in prison and six months home detention.
13 Russian nationals and 3 Russian entities
- Role: Financial backers and employees of Russia's notorious Internet Research Agency (IRA). Russian businessman and Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, who helped fund the IRA, was charged along with two of his businesses, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, and Concord Catering (in addition to the IRA). Twelve IRA employees were also charged.
- Charges: All defendants were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, three were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five were charged with aggravated identity theft. The indictment alleges that the notorious "troll factory" was used to carry out influence operations aimed at sowing political discord and interfering in the 2016 election through, among other things, the dissemination of propaganda, "fake news," and disinformation on social media platforms.
- Outcome: Unresolved.
12 Russian intelligence officers
- Role: Members of Russia's military intelligence agency (GRU).
- Charges: The indictment charges the 12 officers with one count of conspiring to commit an offense against the United States. The conspiracy was carried out with the intent of interfering in the 2016 election through hacking computer systems, stealing documents, and releasing those documents with intent to interfere. This includes the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the dissemination of emails intended to hurt Democratic candidates, especially Hillary Clinton.
- Outcome: Unresolved.
The Russia investigation has already yielded major results, but it's also still very active. Many questions remain unanswered, and investigators are reportedly still looking at a number of potential crimes involving Trump, his associates, and Russian officials. These areas of inquiry include, but are not at all limited to:
- Roger Stone: Mueller's team has interviewed many close associates of longtime trump ally Roger Stone, with a particular focus on his communications with Guccifer 2.0 (a Russian intelligence officer) and Julian Assange/WikiLeaks. The July 2018 indictment handed down by the Department of Justice actually cited Stone's messages to Guccifer 2.0, though it doesn't specifically name Stone. Investigators are also reportedly scrutinizing his emails regarding a "back channel" to Julian Assange.
- Jerome Corsi: Conservative author and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi has close ties to Stone, and claims to have rejected a plea offer from Mueller's team, according to the Washington Post. The Post notes Corsi and Stone corresponded about Assange. Corsi claims a faulty memory led to any possible misstatements he made to the Mueller team, and refuses to entertain a plea deal saying he lied to investigators.
- NRA donations: Mueller's team is reportedly looking into NRA donors with links to Russia and investigating whether any of them used the organization to funnel illegal donations to support the Trump campaign. Investigators are thought to be scrutinizing the NRA's tax filings for evidence of such activity.
- Trump Tower meeting: Investigators are also reportedly looking at Trump's knowledge of and involvement in the June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower between campaign associates and Russian officials promising "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.
- Trump's inauguration and inaugural donors: Mueller's investigators are also scrutinizing Russian-linked donations to Trump’s inaugural committee, as well as the attendance of (and "unusual access" given to) certain Russians at the event.
- Obstruction of justice: Mueller's team is closely examining Trump's actions to see if any of them, when viewed in context, may amount to an attempt to obstruct justice. Some of the actions being investigated include any attempts by Trump to pressure Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, his decision to fire then-FBI Director James Comey in May 2017 as well as potential efforts to pressure Comey into backing off the investigation, his involvement in crafting a misleading public statement about the Trump Tower meeting, and even his tweets.
By all indications, Mueller and his team have slowly and methodically worked through the evidence. While the investigation has already led to multiple indictments, plea deals, and cooperating witnesses, no one but Mueller knows what 2019 may bring.
This article is an update to an Aug. 24 article written by Caroline Orr.
Published with permission of The American Independent.