Despite getting off to a slow start, an inquiry led by former FBI director and current special prosecutor Robert Mueller into Russian collusion within the Trump election campaign has led to the indictment of three persons of interest.
Former campaign manager to Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, and his business partner Richard Gates were called to surrender themselves to the FBI last Monday on charges of a financial nature, including money laundering, which appear to be unrelated to the presidential campaign. Some suspect that these charges may be an investigation tactic designed to encourage the pair to confess to other crimes as well.
It was also revealed that George Papadopoulos, former policy aide to the now-President, confessed earlier in October to making false statements to the FBI regarding communications with Russian officials he had conducted on behalf of the campaign.
A fourteen-page statement of offence unsealed last Monday revealed that Papadopoulos had attempted to set up a meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin during the run-up to the election. As well as this, he embroiled himself into a plot involving academics and Russian officials with the hope of illegally obtaining “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. He also attempted on numerous occasions to create or strengthen ties with Kremlin officials, but is said to have “made material false statements and material omissions” to the FBI when questioned on the matter after the inauguration. He is also described as changing his phone number and deleting his Facebook account in an attempt to hide his contacts with connected individuals.
He is now co-operating with the investigation under the terms of a plea deal, and has been referred to as a “proactive co-operator,” leading some to speculate that he may have worked as an informant in the weeks that followed his confession.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders minimised the findings of the investigation, referring to Papadopoulos as a “volunteer,” whilst Donald Trump also did his best to distance himself from those indicted. He tweeted, “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign,” and “…Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”
But this is the man who led crowds of his supporters to chant “lock her up!” upon the revelation that presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had used her own private email server during her time as secretary of state, to yell “CNN sucks!” and demand that Mexico pay for a new border wall. Someone who understands rage, and populism, and the anti-establishment views of many of his followers.
As the investigation into Russian collusion in the Trump campaign heats up, many within the administration must feel a little hot under the collar wondering just what those crowds might be chanting next.