Guilty Plea & Indictments Against Trump Campaign Officials Show Need to Safeguard Mueller’s Russia Investigation

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  • David Vance
Statement of Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn

Today’s guilty plea by Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos for lying to investigators about his contacts with Russian nationals with ties to high-level Kremlin officials during the campaign and the indictments against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Richard Gates, hammer home the need to allow Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to run its course without interference.

The Papadopoulos guilty plea makes very clear that the Russians were attempting to collude with the campaign and that Papadopoulos made repeated attempts to expedite those efforts with high-level Trump campaign officials. Papadopoulos learned in April 2016, for example, that Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails”—just prior to the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner and Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer who had promised Donald Trump Jr. “damaging information about Hillary Clinton.” Common Cause filed a complaint with the Department of Justice and Federal Election Commission alleging violations of campaign finance law stemming from this Trump Tower meeting. Regardless of whether collusion occurred, it is now apparent that members of Trump’s inner circle knew much more about Russian attempts to collude than they have publicly admitted. 

The refusal of the White House to recognize the legitimacy or seriousness of the investigation and attempts to downplay the roles of Papadopoulos, Manafort and Gates are deeply troubling. The concerted effort by the Russian government to sway the 2016 presidential election is a direct attack on our nation and must be investigated thoroughly. Common Cause members across the country are urging their representatives in Congress to support legislation to ensure that there is no interference with the Special Counsel and his investigation.

Despite the President’s attempts to downplay Manafort’s role in the campaign, his role was extensive and he played a key role in securing the Republican nomination for Donald Trump. It is also important to emphasize that the charges against Manafort focus on his extensive work for and payments from a Kremlin-supported Ukrainian politician. At the Republican Party convention Manafort also orchestrated changes in the party platform favorable to Russia.

Gates’ involvement with the Administration outlasted Manafort’s, extending through the transition and inauguration and afterwards with the pro-Trump America First Priorities.

Russian interference in our elections will not stop, which makes it imperative that the Special Counsel’s investigation be given the time and resources necessary to follow the evidence wherever it leads. Americans deserve to truth about what happened and whom was involved.