Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, released the following statement on Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who was found guilty by a federal jury on 8 counts of bank and tax fraud, and Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to 8 violations of banking, tax and campaign finance laws:
“A federal jury just found Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, guilty of eight counts of bank and tax fraud. Simultaneously, his personal attorney and so-called ‘fixer,’ Michael Cohen, appeared in a separate courthouse and pleaded guilty to eight charges, which include violating campaign finance laws at the direction of a ‘federal candidate’ – an unquestionable reference to Donald Trump, who is now also implicated in a federal crime. However, the crimes of Trump, Cohen, and Manafort are only the tip of the iceberg. I believe there is still, clearly, much more to come related to money laundering and other crimes involving an expanding group of Trump allies with questionable connections to Russia, including not only Manafort and Cohen, but also Donald Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates; Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn; Donald Trump’s former campaign foreign policy advisors George Papadopoulos and Carter Page; and Donald Trump’s Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross. When investigators and prosecutors follow the money and the patterns of misconduct, I believe the crimes of Donald Trump’s top aides are going to lead right into collusion and obstruction.
“Paul Manafort’s ties to Vladimir Putin and Russia are well known. Manafort worked for years for pro-Russian interests; this work included a long business relationship with Russian billionaire and close Putin ally, Oleg Deripaska, as well as work for pro-Russia politician and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Furthermore, despite being deeply in debt, Manafort volunteered his services to the Trump campaign free of charge, and offered to provide briefings on the campaign to Oleg Deripaska — who we’ve also learned was owed millions of dollars by Manafort. While he was found guilty in a Virginia court, Manafort still faces a second trial in a Washington, DC federal court on charges of lying to the FBI, money laundering and failing to register as a foreign lobbyist.
“Similarly, let’s not forget about Michael Cohen’s close relationship with Felix Sater – a Russian-born real estate developer, convicted felon, and Trump ally with ties to organized crime. Cohen and Sater worked to reach a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow in the midst of the presidential election, which would, in Sater’s own words, ‘get Donald elected.’ In addition, it has also been reported that a shell company created by Cohen, Essential Consultants, received $500,000 in payments from a company controlled by a Russian oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, who was sanctioned by the U.S. government for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
“Why is it that all of these aides, allies and associates of the president are connected in so many ways to Russia and Vladimir Putin, whom we know interfered in the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump? It’s clear to me that Putin would like nothing more than for the Trump Administration to lift U.S. sanctions so that Russia can drill in the Arctic, and that Putin found in Michael Cohen, Felix Sater, Michael Flynn, and other members of Trump’s inner circle partners who were more than willing to oblige in exchange for support for Trump and the ability to compete in a new money playground in Russia.
“Don’t be misled by the ridiculous lies and conspiracy theories being pedaled by this president or his attorney, Rudy Giuliani. This is not a witch hunt or fake news. These are real charges of criminal behavior. These are based on real facts, real evidence, and real testimony, and in the final analysis, all of this will lead to real articles of impeachment.”