Three Strikes and You’re…Still In?

Trump administration faces the consequences of ongoing scandal with Russia

Sabrina Hallal, Scarlet Staff

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It seems as though the main headlines for months now have been about Special Counsel Robert Muller and his investigation into the connection between Russia and the Trump campaign. Whether there was any interference by the Russians in the election is yet to be determined, but the investigation has been an eventful one. And President Trump’s campaign has sustained three major hits over the past few weeks, in the forms of indictments against Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, was indicted on several charges, including money laundering and tax evasion, as well as other charges, spanning over a significant period of time. On October 30th, Manafort surrendered to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and pled not guilty, but the charges still stand and are detrimental to the campaign’s reputation.

Rick Gates, Manafort’s associate and campaign advisor, was indicted with the same charges as Manafort. The two are thought to have been making money in Ukraine, through pro-Russia groups, and lying about doing so. They then sent the money to banks in Cyprus, and then to the United States, according to the charges. Gates, like Manafort, surrendered to the F.B.I and pled not guilty.

George Papadopoulos proves to be a different story, though. Papadopoulos, the former Foreign Policy Advisor of the Trump campaign, was questioned in January by the F.B.I about possible ties to the Russians. It was believed that Papadopoulos had been talking to a professor in

London with ties to the Russian government, and wanted to use those ties to assist Trump in the 2016 election. When initially questioned, Papadopoulos denied having known the professor, but plead guilty in early October to lying to the F.B.I about the connection, now claiming that he did talk to the professor in the hopes of making connections with the Russian government.

Many have taken the indictments as sure signs that Trump’s victory in the 2016 election was orchestrated, but it is still unclear whether the Trump campaign was actually connected to Russian government officials. Although Manafort and Gates have been indicted, and Papadopoulos has pled guilty, their actions cannot be definitively connected to President Trump and his campaign. In the span of the investigation, these are just minor details that fail to determine whether any Russian interference took place under the President’s jurisdiction.

But, the indictments prove dangerous to Trump’s administration. They have created increased doubt in the validity of the election. After all, if some of Trump’s former campaign members were so corrupted,  it is possible that there is even more corruption to be found. Though the charges cannot prove anything for sure, they have drawn a lot of attention to the campaign. And considering the seriousness of the charges made by Mueller’s investigation, it seems as though something deeper and very questionable is going on. At this moment, though, nothing can be said for sure. There isn’t currently enough evidence to make a substantial case against the Trump administration. What can be said is that Mueller’s team still has a long way to go in the investigation.