Special Counsel Mueller just filed a new criminal charge today (embedded below) alleging a criminal cover-up of ex-Trump aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates’ illegal foreign lobbying efforts with the House Republican best known as Putin’s favorite Congressman.
Rick Gates has pled guilty to this new felony charge, which comes as a direct result of Mueller’s dramatic early morning raid on Paul Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia home last summer.
In August, we reported that a series of criminal charges had been filed against multiple Republican Congressmen by lawyer J. Whitfield Larrabee, which the Attorney General’s office referred to Mueller. Larrabee has identified the meeting participants in Mueller’s charges today through his criminal complaint’s analysis of Paul Manafort’s and “Company A” Mercury’s FARA registration filings.
Former Minnesota Republican congressman turned top-five lobbyist Vin Weber, Paul Manafort and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) participated in the formerly secret meeting cited by Mueller, which became the basis for Larrabee’s complaint against the California Republican legislator for illegally accepting foreign campaign funds.
“Mueller’s superseding indictment today vastly increases the likelihood that Rohrabacher, Vin Weber, and other Mercury lobbyists could be indicted,” says attorney J. Whitfield Larrabee, who explained:
“Rohrabacher is immersed up to his nose in these crimes. Just three days after Rohrabacher met with Manafort and Weber in March 2013, Rohrabacher accepted $2,000 in campaign contributions from Weber and Kutler. Although he was notified that the contributions illegally originated with the Party of Regions and were laundered by Manafort and Gates, Rohrabacher has stubbornly refused to disgorge the money from his campaign fund.”
“The lobbyists criminally violated federal election laws by acting as conduits for the Ukraine Party of Regions, and Rohrabacher criminally violated federal election laws by accepting the contributions. It is a federal crime for foreign political parties to directly or indirectly make campaign contributions, for individuals to act as conduits for foreign political parties in making contributions to federal candidates and for candidates to knowingly accept contributions directly or indirectly made by foreign political parties or foreign nationals.”
“Vin Weber and Ed Kutler, lobbyists for the Mercury firm, appear to be just as culpable as Gates and Manafort of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act. They worked hand in hand with Rohrabacher to transfer payments they received from Manafort, originating with the Party of Regions, to Rohrabacher and two other members of Congress.”
Rick Gates’ guilty plea casts a pall over @DanaRohrabacher & lobbyist Vin Weber. Gates pleaded guilty to lying to OSC & the FBI to cover up Weber & Manafort’s corrupt meeting with Rohrabacher. Due to a 5 yr. statute of limitation, Special Counsel Mueller may indict them soon.
— J Whitfield Larrabee (@jwlarrabee) February 23, 2018
Mueller’s new charges conclusively show that Manafort, Weber and current Rep. Dana Rohrabacher discussed the rapidly deteriorating situation in Ukraine on March 19th, 2013.
Trump’s former campaign advisor Gates admitted three weeks ago that he and Manafort then lied to the FBI about the purpose of that meeting to conceal their purpose and involvement as agents representing the interests of Victor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian puppet leader of Ukraine.
Since that 2013 meeting, Gates and Manafort’s former Ukrainian paymaster has fled to Russia and their business fortunes crashed, culminating in yesterday’s indictments for mortgage fraud.
But when the Department of Justice came asking about the pair’s foreign lobbying efforts in November 2016 and February 2017, both Manafort and Gates concocted a phony excuse for having already destroyed evidence of their communications about the 2013 meeting with Rohrabacher.
So late last July, Special Counsel Mueller’s team called their bluff and obtained key evidence of the pair’s guilt in a dramatic pre-dawn raid unusual for a white collar criminal case. Today’s criminal information identifies DMI as a front company for Manafort and Davis, saying:
Absent the greater issue of Russia’s sophisticated efforts to impact last year’s elections, Manafort’s foreign money trail itself raises major questions about who is funding the entire Republican party.
Meanwhile, the involvement of Republican super-lobbyist Vin Webber is strongly reminiscent of the Jack Abramoff scandal, the last criminal GOP lobbying scam which propelled the last major blue wave that swept corruption out of the House of Representatives in 2006.
In a remarkable coincidence, last year convicted felon GOP lobbyist Abramoff returned to Washington, DC, and promptly became involved with lobbying Rep. Rohrabacher. Abramoff registered as a foreign agent lobbyist once again last summer.
Today’s news vaults the formerly obscure Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher into the spotlight once again, because whatever was discussed with Paul Manafort about Russia’s interests in Ukraine back then was so sensitive, that it required a criminal conspiracy and cover-up nearly five years later.
“The five year anniversary for the March 19, 2013 Manafort meeting is only three weeks away,” says Larrabee, “which means that the Special Counsel may need to indict Rohrabacher and Weber within the month to beat any applicable 5-year statutes of limitations on filing criminal charges.”
Whatever Gates and Manafort were advancing at this mysterious 2013 meeting, its relevance to the Special Counsel’s probe is definitely in the clear evidence of crimes committed.
Today’s charges could also reveal the root of Trump’s top aides’ reasons for alignment with the Russian state interests, which they were paid handsomely to advance in Ukraine, and what – if any – role that played in their decision to join the last Republican presidential campaign.