Legal expert, former federal prosecutor and candidate for Illinois Attorney General Renato Mariotti shared his preliminary thoughts on the Manafort/Gates indictments in the Trump Russia probe Monday morning.
THREAD: My very preliminary / initial thoughts on the indictment of Paul Manafort and Richard Gates.
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) October 30, 2017
Here is his whole Twitter thread:
1/ The indictment of Manafort and Gates was just unsealed. You can view it here: https://www.justice.gov/file/1007271/download
2/ An indictment is a formal charge that has been approved on by a grand jury, which are a group ordinary citizens who hear evidence..
3/ In the United States, you have a constitutional right to be charged by indictment if you are being charged with a felony.
4/ The indictment charges Paul Manafort and Richard Gates with multiple felonies. A felony is a crime punishable by over a year in prison.
5/ The indictment charges the men with a number of different crimes. I’m going to walk through them in this thread.
6/ Indictments list the allegations that the government is making and the specific laws that have been violated.
7/ This indictment is something called a “speaking indictment” — instead of just saying the charges, it lists specific factual allegations.
8/ Certain crimes (like conspiracy) require the government to explain exactly what the defendants did and what the conspiracy was about.
9/ Prosecutors gain a couple of advantages from charging crimes like conspiracy. First, they get to give the jury a road map of the case.
10/ The jury gets to bring the indictment back into the jury room when they deliberate after a trial.
11/ Conspiracy charges also let prosecutors bring in a broader range of activity into a single charge.
12/ Typically crimes involve a specific action or occur at a specific time. A conspiracy is an agreement to break the law and it is ongoing.
13/ So the first charge in this indictment is a conspiracy under 18 U.S.C. 371. That is a general federal conspiracy statute.
14/ If two people agree to commit a federal law and take a concrete step towards doing so (called an overt act), they’ve violated 371.
15/ Here, Manafort and Gates are charged with agreeing to defeat the lawful functions of the United States.
16/ This is a common charge in tax cases–I charged this statute myself in a tax case. It means they worked together to undermine the IRS.
17/ For instance, when you go out of your way to hide money and affirmatively make it hard for the IRS to enforce the law against you.
18/ You can read more about the basis of the conspiracy charge by reading the parts of the indictment references in paragraphs 38 and 39.
19/ The second crime is a conspiracy (agreement) to launder money. That’s when you move money in order to promote *another* crime.
20/ I’ve told you before that money laundering is a challenge to prove because you need to show that other crime happened. Mueller did that.
21/ The other crime (it’s called “specified unlawful activity”) is a failure to register as a foreign agent. More on that later.
22/ The next crime is only against Manafort for failure to file a statement with the Treasury Department disclosing foreign bank accounts.
23/ As we’ve discussed often, prosecutors like narrow charges like this because they’re easy to prove. Either you disclosed or not, period.
24/ The next crime charged is against only Gates for essentially the same thing. Failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.
25/ The next count is for failing to register as a foreign agent. The law requires that anyone working in the U.S. as an agent of a foreign
26/ government must register with the Attorney General. This is another narrow crime that can be very straightforward to prove.
27/ (Registration is important so our government can monitor what foreign governments are doing within the United States.)
28/ The next crime (Count 11, p. 27) is one of the most important and revealing. This charges false and misleading registration statements.
29/ I don’t have time to list the statements here, but Mueller is affirmatively alleging that he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that
30/ each one of those statements is false, which says something about the work that Manafort and Gates were doing and allegedly lied about.
31/ The next crime is just a different way of charging the same false statements, which are a violation of both statutes.
32/ Prosecutors sometimes charge the same crime multiple ways because what they have to prove under each statute is slightly different.
33/ The last part of the indictment is something called the “Forfeiture Allegation.” If property is acquired from unlawful activity, or
34/ if it is used in unlawful activity, it can be “forfeited” (taken) by the federal government. That forfeiture has to be alleged too.
35/ Here the government lists various property that they will try to forfeit as well as “substitute property” that they can take if the
36/ listed property is no longer available because it was sold or transferred.
37/ I have many, many more thoughts on this indictment but this is a starting point. I will have more threads today and will be on TV a lot.
38/ I read your comments and questions, even if I can’t respond to all of them, and I’ll try to answer them later today. /end