Manafort Attorney: Parts Of Indictment Are ‘Ridiculous’

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBSMiami/AP) —  Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort plead ‘not guilty’ to criminal charges after turning himself in on Monday at the FBI’s field office in Washington D.C.

Manafort was indicted under seal on Friday and the indictment was unsealed Monday. It accused Manafort of laundering more than $18 million which was used by him to buy property, goods, and services.

Following his first appearance in court, his attorney Keving Downing spoke to the press, calling some of the charges ‘ridiculous,’ adding that there is ‘no evidence’ Manafort and the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

Earlier, President Donald Trump reacted to the indictment.

The president’s move is considered an effort to separate from Manafort who is the first person to be indicted in the Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible connections between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Related: ‘Today Has Zero To Do With The White House’: Source On Manafort Charges

The 12 counts include conspiracy against the U.S., money laundering, and several counts related to failing to register as a foreign agent. These initial charges do not cover any activities related to the 2016 campaign, but it’s possible additional charges could come later.

The indictment alleges Manafort and longtime partner Rick Gates, who also pleaded not guilty, hid foreign payments from federal authorities. They also reportedly falsely claimed that they had no foreign bank accounts. Gates, who was also involved in the Trump campaign, has also turned himself into the authorities.

The indictment alleges that they moved money through hidden bank accounts in Cyprus, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Seychelles. In total, more than $75 million flowed through the offshore accounts.

Manafort and Gates were both ordered to home confinement Monday and ordered to surrender their passports.  Judge Deborah Robinson agreed to Justice Department requests to set bond at $10 million for Manafort and $5 million for Gates. They did not have to put collateral behind that amount, and will not have to pay it unless they violate the court’s directions.

The house arrest request came because the government stressed the “nature of the charges and their seriousness.”

Manafort would be a risk of flight because he faces 151 to 181 months in prison, and alleged fraud in his charges. Gates faces 121 to 151 months in prison. Gates must report to the Eastern District of Virginia court for monitoring Tuesday at noon. Manafort will be monitored by DC officials.

The defendants will have to check in daily with law enforcement by phone and will only be allowed to leave their homes for see their attorneys, appear at court, or for medical and religious necessities.

The charges do not appear to related to the Trump campaign.

“It adds a substantial layer of complexity, I think. Just the Ukraine and Russian connections could add months and months to this investigation,” said former Assistant FBI Director Ron Hosko.

Manafort, 68, was fired as Trump’s campaign chairman in August after word surfaced that he had orchestrated a covert lobbying operation on behalf of pro-Russian interests in Ukraine. The Associated Press reported that Manafort also represented a Russian billionaire a decade ago with the goal of advancing the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

““These are very serious charges and show why we must be patient about the investigation,” said Senator Bill Nelson.

President Donald Trump, through a series of tweets Sunday, called the probe a “witch hunt” saying “there is so much guilt by Democrats/Clinton.” Last week, it came to light that Democrats helped pay for some of the information in a dossier of allegations against the president’s election team.

On Monday morning, after the indictment was unsealed and the charges were made known, the president tweeted:

The special counsel has also been investigating financial dealings of Trump associates, including former national security adviser Mike Flynn.

“I have not yet seen any definitive evidence of collusion. I have seen lots of evidence that the Russians were very active in trying to influence the election,” said Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine

Some Republicans, like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, are questioning how today’s potential indictment was leaked.

“There are strict laws against any of this type of leaking of grand jury activity,” said Christie on CBS News “Face The Nation.”

Christie maintains the President himself is not under investigation. Some Republicans are calling on Mueller to resign, questioning his ties to the FBI and its fired director James Comey.

Click here to read the full indictment.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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