President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Sunday after news broke on Friday that there will be federal grand jury indictments in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

After the announcement that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates were indicted on 12 charges including conspiracy against the United States for activity unrelated to the Trump campaign, President Trump claimed there was no collusion with Russia.

Trump was silent, however, about George Papadopoulos, who was an early foreign policy advisor to the presidential campaign, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a professor who had ties with the Russian government.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), responding to the news said that the system should be allowed to run its course.

“As always, it’s important to let our legal system run its course.  While we don’t have any more information regarding the current status of the special counsel’s investigation other than what has already been made public, it’s good to see the Justice Department taking seriously its responsibility to enforce the Foreign Agents Registration Act.  I’ve been raising concerns about lackluster enforcement of this foreign influence disclosure law for years now, regardless of administration or political party. It should be enforced fairly and consistently, regardless of politics or any other factor. The dirty little secret is that lots of people across the political spectrum in Washington have skirted their FARA registration obligations for years with little to no accountability.  I’ve been working on legislation to improve the Justice Department’s enforcement of FARA, and expect to introduce it very soon,” Grassley stated.

“The Judiciary Committee is continuing its work to ensure that the Justice Department and FBI are functioning free from inappropriate influence, consistent with our constitutional oversight responsibility,” Grassley added.

Two takeaways:

1. The investigation should be allowed to run its course.

Grassley is right; the legal system should be allowed to run its course.

This investigation is just getting started, and these indictments are Mueller’s opening salvo. More than likely, Mueller will use the charges to attempt to get Manafort to flip. If there’s something there, and he flips, that could be trouble for the Trump campaign. That’s a big if.

Also, I agree with President Trump, the Steele Dossier, and uranium deal should be investigated. I think President Trump is assuming that they won’t be (or are not being) investigated. We see the investigation is reaching into Democrat territory with Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta announcing his resignation today. Mueller should go everywhere the evidence leads him whether it points to the Clinton campaign or the Trump campaign (or neither). Americans deserve the truth.

Also, as far as Manafort and Gates are concerned, they are innocent until proven guilty.

2. A Trump campaign advisor lying to the FBI is not a little thing.

While the Manafort and Gates’ indictments are not directly tied to the FBI,  Papadopoulos’ pleading guilty is.

The Washington Post reports:

According to court papers released Monday, those contacts included an unnamed overseas professor whom Papadopoulos met in Italy in March, the same month he joined the campaign. In April 2016, the professor told him the Russian government had “dirt” on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, including thousands of Clinton’s emails.

That conversation occurred two months before the Democratic National Committee revealed it had been hacked and believed Russians were behind the attack. It also came about a month after an email account belonging to Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, was targeted with a phishing attempt that may have led to the hack of his emails. Podesta’s emails were released by WikiLeaks in October.

He was charged under seal in July.

Papadopoulos, who was arrested when he arrived at Dulles Airport on July 27, signed a plea agreement that indicates he is cooperating with special prosecutor Robert S. Mueller III, filings show. The charge against him indicates that Mueller is deeply examining any links between Trump aides and Russian officials as part of his probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

Papadopoulos’ cooperation indicates that the investigation is progressing. What that means for President Trump or others involved with his presidential campaign is uncertain.

Update: Bonus takeaway – Trump’s hiring practices.

Meant to include this as a third takeaway, but I had a senior moment before publishing. President Donald Trump has said he would surround himself with the “best and most serious” people. Whether or not Manafort’s and Gates’ actions directly impacted the campaign (all we know is that the charges are not related to the campaign) this demonstrates that President Trump did not drain the swamp.

He hired it.

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