Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his top deputy, Rick Gates, are facing serious charges regarding the consulting business Manafort used to operate. Manafort and Gates have been indicted on 12 charges, including “conspiracy against the United States,” “conspiracy to launder money” and “false statements.”
But now, Russia is claiming the allegations against both men are “cooked up” and not part of a “serious investigation.” The Russian foreign ministry cited what they say is one glaring factual discrepancy in the 31-page indictment: the fact that the indictment referred to Yulia Tymoshenko as the former president of Ukraine.
Tymoshenko served twice as Ukraine’s prime minister before being imprisoned in 2011 on embezzlement charges, according to NBC News.
“I liked a lot the bit that, it turns out, according to the recent findings of American enforcers, the Ukrainian president before (Viktor) Yanukovych was Yulia Tymoshenko,” said Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
Zakharova claims this one error puts the entire document’s validity into question.
“This is a very important moment showing the way how, once again, this document had been made, cooked up,” Zakharova said. “You understand when you talk about serious investigation one cannot allow things like that.”
The indictment against Manafort and Gates claims that both men made of millions of dollars thanks to their lobbying efforts in Ukraine.
They, in addition to George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign policy adviser who pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI, are the first people to be charged as part of the ongoing investigation into Russia’s meddling in last year’s election.
Papadopoulos’ guilty plea led the White House to immediately distance itself from him. President Donald Trump even tweeted that hardly anyone knew who Papadopoulos was.
The White House said Monday that the indictments against Manafort have nothing to do with the president, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. As for the charges against Manafort, NBC reported they are going to be tough to beat.
“It’s a very strong case, of course it’s not about last year’s election, but they have a long list of transactions and they have a lot of facts to support the indictment,” said Jennifer Rodgers, a former assistant U.S. attorney in New York.
But if Russian officials can cast doubt into the validity of the indictment, it may give Manafort the leverage he needs.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has already claimed on several occasions the country did not meddle in the 2016 election.