Timing is everything: Manafort charged for committing crimes while Trump campaign chairman


Trump has bragged about personally hiring only the best people to work for him. Now two of them are charged with conspiracy against the United States.

Two top Trump campaign officials have been indicted on 12 charges in the Russia probe, including conspiracy against the United States.

Paul Manafort, who served as Trump's campaign chair in the summer of 2016 and played a critical role in the shaping of the Republican Party platform that showed shocking deference to Russia as it was trying to hijack our election process, turned himself into federal authorities Monday morning.

Despite the incessant whining by Donald Trump and his allies that the investigation is a "hoax" and that no one on his team did anything wrong, the charges against Manafort and his so-called protege, Richard Gates, are extremely serious. The two have been indicted on 12 counts, including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, and making false and misleading statements to the federal government in 2016 and 2017.

But as legal expert Jeffrey Toobin noted on CNN, one of the most concerning parts of the indictment is the timing.

"Robert Mueller is alleging that Paul Manafort was committing crimes while he was the campaign chairman of the Trump campaign," Toobin said, which he described as "highly significant."

While Manafort officially left the campaign before the election, he continued to serve as a loyal surrogate for Trump. Gates, meanwhile, made multiple visits to the Trump White House, though the extent of his visits is unknown because the White House refuses to release visitor logs.

The indictments of two top Trump campaign officials are serious and breathtaking in scope. But the investigation is not over, as Mueller continues to look at other members of Trump's inner circle and their potentially criminal acts, collusion with Russia, and Trump's efforts to obstruct justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey when he refused to terminate the investigation.

There is almost certainly more to come.