Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, surrendered to federal authorities Monday morning after a person close to the case said the first charges were filed in a special counsel investigation. Former Trump campaign official Rick Gates has also been told to turn himself in, The New York Times reports.
The charges against Manafort were not immediately clear, but this is an escalation in the investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and members of Trump’s team. He went to the FBI’s field office in Washington at about 8:15 a.m. with his lawyer.
Gates is a longtime partner of Manafort and his name appears on documents linked to companies set up by Manafort’s firm in Cyprus to receive payments from politicians and businessmen in Eastern Europe. According to New York Times, Manafort has been under investigation for violations of federal tax law, money laundering and whether he appropriately disclosed his foreign lobbying.
FBI agents raided Manafort’s home this summer and prosecutors warned him that they planned to indict him. Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 and was quickly promoted to chairman and chief strategist. But, Trump fired him a few months later after the reports that he received more than 12 million dollars in undisclosed payments from Viktor F. Yanukovych, the former pro-Russian president of Ukraine.
Previous reports say that Manafort and others close to the president have met Russians last year on the promise of receiving damaging political information about Hillary Clinton.
Manafort and Gates are the first two officials in Trump’s orbit charged in connection with the special counsel investigation, which is exploring whether Trump’s actions surrounding the firing of former FBI Director James Comey amount to obstruction of justice, CNN reports.