On Monday morning, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was arraigned on a number of charges alleging that he evaded taxes and failed to file as a foreign lobbyist from 2006 to 2015.The Robert Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election may have just claimed its first scalp. Last Friday, Mueller's team got a federal grand jury to sign off on 12 specific charges against Robert Mueller and one of his associates. We've pored over the indictment, and here are five fast facts you need to know about this breaking news. 1. The indictment focuses on charges allegedly committed between 2006 and 2015, before Paul Manafort joined the Trump campaign. Paul Manafort served as the chairman of the Trump presidential campaign for exactly three months, from May 19 to August 19 of 2016. The indictment against him entirely precedes his work on the 2016 election, instead focusing on work that Manafort did for Ukrainian political candidates prior to 2015. Most of the charges focus on financial crimes, including tax evasion and money laundering. 2. One of the charges against Manafort is that he failed to register as a foreign lobbyist. The Foreign Agents Registration Act was passed in 1938 and requires that Americans register with the federal government if they begin lobbying on behalf of a foreign government's interests. Manafort worked on behalf of Viktor Yanukovych, who served as Ukraine's president for four years until he was ousted in 2014. Part of his work involved lobbying Congress and trying to convince them to support the pro-Russian Ukrainian government. In June of 2017, Paul Manafort retroactively filed his FARA registration with the Justice Department. Interestingly enough, Manafort worked with a Washington firm known as the Podesta Group. John Podesta would go on to become Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign chairman. The Podesta Group also retroactively filed its FARA paperwork earlier this year for its work with Manafort on the Ukrainian contract. With Manafort's indictment, it will be interesting to see if Mueller's team files similar charges against the Podesta Group for also failing to register as a foreign lobbyist.
3. Manafort was charged with "conspiracy against the United States" for his effort to defraud the IRS. While the charge "conspiracy against the United States" sounds very nefarious, it simply means that Manafort conspired with others to defraud the United States by evading taxes on his income. The allegation is that Manafort parked his income overseas, never paid taxes on that money, and then laundered it through domestic real estate purchases. 4. Manafort surrendered himself to federal authorities early Monday morning. When news broke last week that Mueller's investigation would be bringing charges against someone in the Trump campaign, rumors circulated that it would include an arrest. Typically, white-collar criminals are not arrested and perp-walked in front of the cameras. Rumors that there would be an arrest increased speculation that Mueller and his team were going to go after Manafort hard. However, a deal was reached between Mueller's team and Manafort's lawyers, allowing the former-Trump campaign manager to surrender himself at the FBI's D.C. headquarters and avoid being arrested. 5. These indictments stretch beyond the initial mandate given to Robert Mueller. Mueller was hired by the Trump administration to investigate Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, however, he was also permitted to investigate any other crimes that are discovered during the course of the probe. Because the indictment against Manafort completely precedes his work on the 2016 campaign, this appears to be beyond the initial scope of the Russian investigation. Charges against Manafort are likely designed to pressure him into testifying against other members of the Trump campaign, which he has publicly declared will not happen. We will provide further updates as more information becomes available.