The guilty plea entered by Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen and the conviction of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort brings the number of presidential aides found to have broken the law to five.
Since his election in November 2016, Trump’s campaign chairman, his deputy campaign manager, his national security adviser, his personal lawyer and a foreign policy aide have all admitted crimes or been convicted as a result of special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Cohen (51), began working for Trump in 2006 as a lawyer and a "fixer", going on to hold the title of executive vice-president at the Trump Organisation. A staunch defender of his boss, he once declared he "would take a bullet for the president", but his loyalty to Trump has apparently waned.
On Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to a number of charges, most notably making an “excessive campaign contribution at the request of a candidate or campaign”, ie Trump. This related to payments made to the Playboy model Karen McDougal and pornographic film actor Stormy Daniels.
Following the plea, Cohen’s lawyer tweeted: “If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”
Cohen is expected to be sentenced on December 12th.
Manafort (69), was the president’s campaign chairman for five months in 2016 during a crucial period in the run-up to the election. He was found guilty on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failure to report a foreign bank account, and could face decades in prison.
The offences predate his involvement in the Trump campaign and the president has variously defended and distanced himself from Manafort, who worked for Ronald Reagan and other high-profile Republicans before establishing a lucrative political consulting business in Ukraine.
Prosecutors said Manafort amassed $65m (£50m) in foreign bank accounts between 2010 and 2014, spending more than $15m on luxury purchases in the same period and developing a penchant for ostrich leather jackets. He faces additional charges in a separate case, due to convene in Washington DC next month.
Flynn (59), enjoyed a brief tenure as national security adviser – a mere 23 days – before he resigned after it emerged he had misled Mike Pence, the vice-president, over his communications with the Russian ambassador prior to Trump taking office.
In December 2016, he struck a plea with special counsel Robert Mueller and pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and vowed to fully cooperate with the Russian interference investigation.
The retired army lieutenant-general's sentencing has been delayed on four occasions amid suggestions he is proving useful to law enforcement in the Russia investigation.
Flynn’s sentencing has been repeatedly delayed and is slated to be pushed back until September 17th.
When asked by prosecutors at his trial earlier this month: “Did you commit crimes with Mr Manafort?” Gates reportedly said: “Yes”.
He went on to detail the litany of offences – from filing falsified tax returns, to setting up shell companies to hide sources of foreign income, and misleading banks to get loans – that he committed upon Manafort’s instructions.
No date has yet been set for Gates’s sentencing – with any jail time likely to be reduced depending on his level of co-operation with the investigation.
Papadopoulos (31), was a foreign policy adviser to Trump during the election campaign and became the first of his advisers to plead guilty in Mueller’s investigation when he confessed to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Russians during the campaign.
The prosecutors said he caused irreparable damage to the investigation after repeatedly lying in an interview in January 2017, which resulted in the FBI missing an opportunity to effectively question a potential key witness.
Papadopoulos is due to be sentenced on September 7th and Mueller has recommended he receives a six-month custodial term. - Guardian News and Media 2018