Special Prosecutor Charges Paul Manafort with Laundering $18 Million; Campaign Aide Cops a Plea
First indictments. Paul Manafort and a former business associate were indicted on Monday on money laundering, tax and foreign lobbying charges, a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over Trump’s first year in office.
Manafort, the president’s former campaign chairman, and his longtime associate Rick Gates, surrendered to the FBI on Monday. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, said Mr. Manafort laundered more than $18 million to buy properties and services.
“Manafort used his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States without paying taxes on that income,” the indictment reads.
Mr. Gates is accused of transferring more than $3 million from offshore accounts. The two are also charged with making false statements.
Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Ty Cobb, said there were no concerns that Mr. Manafort would offer damaging information about the president in exchange for a deal.
Separately, one of the early foreign policy advisers to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about a contact with a Russian professor with ties to Kremlin officials, prosecutors said on Monday.
Puerto Rico power. Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló has asked the board of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to cancel the $300 million contract with a small Montana company to rebuild part of the island’s power grid. Rosselló’s request comes two days after FEMA said it had “significant concerns” about the deal with Whitefish Energy Holdings and might refuse to cover the costs of the contract if it were found to be improper. Rosselló said he has asked for a federal investigation of the contract award process.
The chief executive of Whitefish, Andy Techmanski, is from the same small town in Montana as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Ricardo Ramos, the chief executive of the power authority, said the power authority had already paid Whitefish or been billed about $20.8 million for work done so far and would have to reimburse the company for the cost of returning helicopters, trucks and other equipment from Puerto Rico to the United States.
Mortgage deduction. The National Association of Home Builders plans to campaign against the Republican effort to overhaul the tax code because a homeownership tax credit will not be in the initial version of the bill. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is scheduled to reveal the bill Wednesday. Failure to pass tax legislation could lead to electoral losses in 2018 and the end of the political career of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) Home builders contribute millions to political campaigns. Jerry Howard, the chief executive of the National Association of Home Builders, said proposed changes could remove incentives for all but the very wealthy to deduct their mortgage interest and have a chilling effect on home ownership. “We will do everything we can to defeat this thing,” Howard said.