On Friday, Robert Mueller's special investigation filed even more charges against former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates. Gates pleaded guilty today and it's easy to see why. He allegedly had to repeatedly convert incriminating PDFs to Word docs because Manafort didn't know how.
Image: CBS This Morning
Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III is investigating a wide range of issues related to Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. In October, Mueller charged the two former Trump staffers with numerous offences related to money laundering. They both pleaded not guilty at the time. But on Friday, the special counsel filed a new 32-count indictment against the two men with further accusations relating to tax and bank fraud.
Among the many allegations and pieces of evidence cited in the indictment, it seems that Manafort's lack of technical ability resulted in him leaving a perfect little paper trail for investigators. The document alleges that Manafort and Gates submitted falsified financial documents related to Davis Manafort Inc. [DMI] in order to secure loans. At one point, Gates attempted to get DMI's bookkeeper to make a change to the company's profit and loss sheet before they submitted it to a lender. The bookkeeper said it violated the company's accounting rules, and it was then up to the two men to do it themselves. From the indictment (emphasis ours):
Manafort and Gates made numerous false and fraudulent representations to secure the loans. For example, Manafort provided the bank with doctored [profit and loss statements] for [Davis Manafort Inc.] for both 2015 and 2016, overstating its income by millions of dollars. The doctored 2015 DMI P&L submitted to Lender D was the same false statement previously submitted to Lender C, which overstated DMI's income by more than $4 million. The doctored 2016 DMI P&L was inflated by Manafort by more than $3.5 million. To create the false 2016 P&L, on or about October 21, 2016, Manafort emailed Gates a .pdf version of the real 2016 DMI P&L, which showed a loss of more than $600,000. Gates converted that .pdf into a "Word" document so that it could be edited, which Gates sent back to Manafort. Manafort altered that "Word" document by adding more than $3.5 million in income. He then sent this falsified P&L to Gates and asked that the "Word" document be converted back to a .pdf, which Gates did and returned to Manafort. Manafort then sent the falsified 2016 DMI P&L .pdf to Lender D.
Manafort could've done a quick Google search and figured out how to convert a PDF but no, he allegedly decided to send it back and forth through email with his co-conspirator, showing that they both clearly were aware of the real numbers and the fraudulently inflated figures. Email!
Gates and Manafort have maintained that they're innocent for much of the last few months. But today, Gates pleaded guilty to conspiracy and false statement charges in US district court. Judge Amy Berman Jackson dismissed the rest of the charges pending against Gates and, according to Politico, he still faces close to six years in prison. No sentencing hearing has been scheduled yet, and Gates is required to fully cooperate with Mueller's ongoing investigation into Manafort, Russia, the Trump Campaign, and pretty much anything the investigator wants.
Politico acquired a statement from Manafort that maintained his innocence. "I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence," he wrote. "For reasons yet to surface he chose to do otherwise."