In the wake of news that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and associate Rick Gates were indicted by a federal grand jury on 12 counts, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi took the opportunity to again call for an outside investigation into whether Trump campaign associates colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.
“Even with an accelerating Special Counsel investigation inside the Justice Department, and investigations inside the Republican Congress, we still need an outside, fully independent investigation to expose Russia’s meddling in our election and the involvement of Trump officials,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement Monday.
“Defending the integrity of our democracy demands that Congress look forward to counter Russian aggression and prevent future meddling with our elections.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office charged Manafort and Gates with a dozen counts, including conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to launder money.
Both men surrendered to federal authorities immediately after the indictment was handed down and are scheduled to appear in court at 1:30 p.m. Democrats then began demanding that Congress approve a bill preventing Mueller from being fired.
According to the indictment, Manafort laundered $18 million, and Gates transferred $3 million from offshore accounts to other accounts he controlled.
The charges against Manafort and Gates are the first related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Senator Mark R. Warner, a Virginia Democrat and vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said the charges against Trump’s former campaign chairman and top deputy, and the guilty plea from a foreign policy advisor to Trump in early October, are reasons to quickly protect Mueller from the wrath of Trump.
“Members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, must also make clear to the president that issuing pardons to any of his associates or to himself would be unacceptable, and result in immediate, bipartisan action by Congress,” Warner said in a statement.
Mueller’s charges, interestingly, say the alleged criminal activity appeared to take place before 2014, or well before the campaign.
Mueller also unsealed a guilty plea entered by George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy advisor, who admitted to lying to cover up contacts he had during the campaign with someone promising dirt on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat, warned Trump to stay out of the situation. “The president must not, under any circumstances, interfere with the special counsel’s work in any way. If he does so, Congress must respond swiftly, unequivocally, and in a bipartisan way to ensure that the investigation continues,” he said.
Pelosi claims ignorance about the Fusion GPS dossier that was funded by Obama and the Democratic National Party, yet she is eager to see another investigation delve into the narrative that Trump and his associates “colluded” with the Russians to win the 2016 presidential election.
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) October 30, 2017