GW law professor takes a look at the indictments in the Trump-Russia investigation
WASHINGTON (ABC7) —
After indictments were announced Monday against three men associated with President Trump and his 2016 campaign, ABC7’s Tom Roussey interviewed Paul Schiff Berman, Professor of Law at The George Washington University, about the implications.
Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and a former Manafort business associate were indicted on felony charges of conspiracy against the United States and other counts.
Berman says although the indictment against Manafort and Rick Gates never mentions President Trump or his campaign, the charges are likely just the beginning.
“The financial crimes are easier to prove because they have paper and wire trails attached to them," Berman says.
The separate charges against Manafort and Gates contend the men acted as unregistered foreign agents for Ukrainian interests. The indictments also include other financial counts involving tens of millions of dollars routed through offshore accounts.
Manafort's indictment doesn't reference the Trump campaign or make any allegations about coordination between the Kremlin and the president's aides to influence the outcome of the election in Trump's favor. The indictment does allege a criminal conspiracy was continuing through February of this year, after Trump had taken office.
The indictment filed in federal court in Washington accuses both Manafort and Gates of funneling payments through foreign companies and bank accounts as part of their political work in Ukraine.
In addition, former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulous admitted to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians. He's now cooperating with investigators and his case relates to allegations involving the President's campaign.
"It is almost certain that now that they have been indicted that they will be asked questions, and asked whether they will cooperate with the prosecution, with regard to the political crime," Berman says.
Papadopoulos has been cooperating with investigators, according to court papers, a potentially ominous sign for others in the Trump orbit who might be implicated by his statements.
"This is actually very quick from a historical perspective. We're only five or six months into the investigation, and I think we should see this as the beginning, not the end, of the process."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.