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US expands laundering, fraud raps vs ex-Trump campaign chief Manafort

WASHINGTON — Ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and his former partner Richard Gates were hit on Thursday with fresh charges of tax and bank fraud, as Russia election meddling special prosecutor Robert Mueller stepped up pressure on the president’s former aides.
Already indicted for money laundering and tax evasion, Manafort and Gates were charged in a separate 32-count indictment with defrauding the US Internal Revenue Service and lying to US banks in order to get some $20 million in loans.
As with the indictment of the two released by Mueller on October 30, the new charges were unrelated to the 2016 election campaign of President Donald Trump.
Instead, they grew from the work Manafort and Gates performed for Russia-backed former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych between about 2006 and 2014.
Mueller’s team alleges that the two laundered $75 million through offshore accounts, many of them in Cyprus, bringing a large portion of the proceeds into the United States as loans and purchases to avoid income tax.

“Manafort and Gates generated tens of millions of dollars in income as a result of their Ukraine work. From approximately 2006 through the present, Manafort and Gates engaged in a scheme to hide income from United States authorities, while enjoying the use of the money,” the new indictment said.
A spokesman for Manafort said he “is confident that he will be acquitted.”
“Paul Manafort is innocent of the allegations set out in the newly filed indictments and he is confident that he will be acquitted of all charges,” the spokesman said in a statement.
A long-time Washington and international political consultant, Manafort served as Trump’s election campaign chairman from June to August 2016, with Gates his deputy.
Mueller’s primary investigative focus is on whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian interference in the election, and whether Trump tried to obstruct his investigation.
But the mandate for Mueller, a former FBI director, is broad, and he has used it to go after Mueller and Gates for earlier behavior, with some analysts saying Mueller hoped to turn them into witnesses against others in Trump’s circle.
On January 3 Manafort sued Mueller for overstepping his mandate, calling the Russia probe “completely unmoored” from the special counsel’s original jurisdiction.
Trump threatens to pull law
enforcement from California
In another development, US President Trump threatened to pull immigration and other federal law enforcement agents from California on Thursday, a warning shot to the country’s richest and most populous state.
Complaining that California was not complying with his hardline position on migrants, Trump warned he could cut vital help from Washington and prompt a crime wave.
“Frankly it’s a disgrace, the sanctuary city situation,” he said, referring to a policy adopted by around 300 local authorities, cities and states of limiting cooperation with strict federal immigration edicts.
“We are getting no help from the state of California,” Trump continued, claiming the state was protecting members of the violent MS13 gang.
“Frankly if I wanted to pull our people from California you would have a crime mess like you’ve never seen,” he said focusing on the role of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other agencies.
“All I would have to do is say ICE and Border Patrol leave California alone and you would be inundated, you would see crime like no one has ever seen crime in this country.”
Trump has repeatedly equated migrants with criminals, and made hardline migration policies a central plank of his political platform.
“In two months they’d be begging for us to come back. They would be begging. And you know what, I’m thinking about doing it.” 

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