An American businessman, lawyer and campaign worker named Paul Manafort has been formally charged with a number of crimes. It's significant because Manafort also temporarily worked as campaign chairman for U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Here's what this is all about. Yesterday, a special counsel for the U.S. Justice Department announced that Manafort and a business partner of his named Rick Gates have been charged with conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder or hide money, making false statements and failing to report that they had foreign bank accounts.
Starting in 2006, Manafort had worked on a number of projects in Eastern Europe, which included helping former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. He was ousted in 2014.
But a report came out last year that Manafort had secretly been paid millions of dollars by Yanukovych's political party, which was friendly to Russia. Manafort denied receiving secret payments. But when the report came out, he and Gates were working on the Trump election campaign. Manafort was its top official for a couple of months and he resigned days after the accusation was made.
Gates also eventually left the campaign. Both of them pleaded not guilty to the charges announced yesterday. Those charges are not related to the Trump campaign and the White House says all this has nothing to do with the president.
But separately, another announcement was made yesterday involving a man named George Papadopoulos. He also worked on the Trump campaign as a foreign policy adviser.
And according to "The Hill", an American political publication, U.S. investigators say Papadopoulos repeatedly tried to set up a meeting between Donald Trump or members of his campaign and members of Russian President Vladimir Putin's office. The meetings did not take place, but investigators said yesterday that Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with officials connected to Russia's government.
The White House says Papadopoulos had a limited volunteer role and that his lying had nothing to do with the campaign.
Meantime, the special investigation continues into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Russia has denied meddling and President Trump says his campaign did not collude with Russia.