Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chair, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the US and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice on Friday.
He now joins the growing — and jaw-dropping — list of people in Trump’s orbit who have pleaded guilty to crimes related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Here’s the list:
- Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser, on one count of lying to the FBI
- Rick Gates, Trump’s former deputy campaign manager and Manafort protégé, on one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of making false statements to FBI agents
- George Papadopoulos, a low-level Trump foreign policy adviser, for making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Russians during the campaign
- Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixed who committed campaign finance violations related to hush money payments he made to porn actress Stormy Daniels
- And now Manafort.
Let’s be clear about what all of this means: There are now five people who worked for Trump — both at the very top and the near bottom — who have admitted to committing serious crimes (none of which, crucially, are about colluding with Russia during the 2016 presidential election).
But it’s also very possible that this list will grow as special counsel Robert Mueller continues his probe into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia.
As of now there is no public evidence that Trump himself committed a crime. But it’s increasingly clear that when he hired people, he wasn’t hiring the best.