In case there's any doubt that several of President Donald Trump's associates have been charged with crimes or are pleading guilty to crimes––some of which are related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling––Aaron Blake, The Washington Post's senior political reporter, tweeted a list of people who are contending with just that. And yes, they are all close associates of the president himself.
Here's the rundown:
- "Trump's 2nd campaign manager": This is Paul Manafort, whose criminal trial is in its second week. In October 2017, federal agents charged Manafort and his longtime business partner Rick Gates with 12 counts of “conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.”
- "Trump's deputy campaign manager": This is the aforementioned Rick Gates, who served as deputy to Manafort when they worked on Trump's presidential campaign. Gates has finished three days of often dramatic testimony, during which he admitted that he and Manafort committed both bank and tax fraud together.
- "Trump's national security adviser": This is Michael Flynn, who resigned from the White House in disgrace after he provided false information about his communications with the Russian government, particularly after the news of his conversations with Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the United States, became public. In December 2017, he appeared in federal court to formalize a deal with Mueller to plead guilty to a felony count of "willfully and knowingly" lying to FBI agents. He has signaled that he will cooperate with Mueller's probe.
- "Trump's foreign policy adviser": This is George Papadopoulos, who tried to broker connections between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Trump later accused "The Fake News of working overtime" and claimed Papadopolous was "a young, low-level volunteer." In October 2017, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about contacts he had with the Russian government during the 2016 election cycle.
- "Trump's 1st campaign manager (battery charges later dropped)": This is Corey Lewandowski, whose influence within the Trump campaign waned considerably once Paul Manafort came aboard. He soon departed, still facing criticism for the scandal which erupted in March 2016 after he was charged with one count of simple battery for assaulting a journalist. The Palm Beach County State Attorney's office later declined to prosecute Lewandowski.
- "Trump's first congressional endorser": This is Representative Chris Collins (R-NY), who was the first sitting member of Congress to endorse Trump for the presidency. Collins was arrested earlier today and charged with insider trading and lying to the FBI.
The responses to Blake's tweet have been largely sardonic in their mockery of the president, who has claimed to only hire "the best people" to work for him.
Representative Adam Schiff also listed off a few other names tied to scandals of their own which might be of interest to our readers.
While some of these names have already been covered, Schiff is also referring to:
- Scott Pruitt: This is the former director of the Environmental Protection Agency, who was under at least 14 separate federal investigations by multiple agencies over such matters as his management practices, his spending habits, and his numerous conflicts of interest. He resigned last month.
- Ronny Jackson: This is the former White House physician, who was Trump's nominee to lead the Veterans Affairs Department. Jackson's nomination was derailed after reports revealed Jackson “oversaw a hostile work environment as the White House doctor, allowed the overprescribing of drugs and possibly drank on the job.”
- Tom Price: This is the former Secretary of Health and Human Services, who ultimately resigned amid scandal after it was revealed that he had racked up at least $400,000 in travel bills for chartered flights.
- Rob Porter: This is the former White House Staff Secretary, who resigned after domestic abuse allegations from both of his former wives became public.
In recent days, the president and his attorney Rudy Giuliani, have come under fire for their attempts to distance themselves from Mueller's investigation, even as Mueller continues to rack up indictments.
Earlier this week, for instance, Trump quoted "Fox & Friends"––one of his favorite news programs––to support his new line of defense: That collusion, that is, in this case, secret and illegal cooperation with the Russian government, did happen, but that it was the fault of former Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton and her campaign.
Giuliani, meanwhile, sparked controversy after he said during an interview on “Fox & Friends” that Mueller should end his investigation.
“If we had anything to do about it, I would ask the special counsel to put out his report and show us what he’s got, you know, show your hand,” Giuliani said.
When asked if he meant he wanted Mueller to put out his final report, Giuliani replied:
Final! Get it over with. Make your case to the Justice Department that you have to continue to investigate. I think you’ll find that there is no reason. Look, think about this: You could investigate an innocent man forever. If you decided he robbed the bank, and he didn’t and he proved to you 50 different ways that he didn’t do it, you’ll look at 51, and then 52, and then 53. Then you try to get somebody who knows him and prosecute the poor person for tax evasion, so they say he robbed the bank. That’s what’s going on here!
During the same interview, Giuliani justified his that colluding with a foreign government is not a crime.
“I have been sitting here looking in the federal code trying to find collusion as a crime,” he said. “Collusion is not a crime. Everything that’s been released so far shows the president to be absolutely innocent. He didn’t do anything wrong.”
Giuliani phoned Fox News later that afternoon to clarify those comments.
“When I said today that there and therefore… and that collusion also is no crime, I’ve been saying that from the very beginning, [and] so has John Dowd,” he said, referring to the man who once led Trump’s legal team.
He added: “It’s a very, very familiar lawyer’s argument than the alternative: My client didn’t do it, and even if he did it, it’s not a crime.”