Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, filed fresh charges against President Donald J. Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort and associate Rick Gates on Thursday. They include bank fraud charges that can carry a sentence of up to 30 years in jail.
The 32-count indictment adds to the scrutiny on the pair, who were charged with money laundering offences in October 2017, but Mueller’s allegations do not include any suspected collusion with the Russian government regarding the 2016 election – the main thrust of the special counsel’s mandate.
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On February 16, Mueller indicted 13 Russian individuals and three companies for allegedly trying to influence the election, a move the White House welcomed, as it said it proved Mueller had found no evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
On January 3, Manafort sued Mueller, alleging that the special counsel had exceeded his legal authority by going into business conducted by Manafort up to a decade before he worked on the campaign.
Mueller’s mandate, signed by acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in May 2017, provides authority to investigate “any matters that arose or may arise directly” from his investigation into links between the Russian government and individuals linked to Trump’s campaign.
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