Attorney, historian weigh in on Manafort, Gates indictments

READING, Pa. - After a months's long investigation into potential Russian connections to President Donald Trump's campaign, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate, Rick Gates, were indicted Monday on charges that go back more than a decade involving lobbying work for Ukraine. 

"When you're a lobbyist for a foreign country, you need to register with the federal government as a foreign agent, and in this case, it appears that he [Manafort] failed to do that," said Ryan McAllister, a criminal defense attorney.

One of the biggest charges: "Seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts."

"Not only did he fail to disclose that he had that money overseas, he subsequently laundered that money, allegedly laundering that money through the United States and failed to disclose it as income," McAllister said.

Where do Monday's events fit into U.S. political history?

"I think you gotta go back to you Ulysses S. Grant," said Tim Blessing, a presidential historian and professor at Alvernia University in Reading. "Grant was not corrupt, but many of his associates were."

Blessing said Russia has a long history of questionable and suspect behavior..

"It would be nice if we could presume that all countries are pure as the driven snow," he said. "Russia is pure as the driven slush."

But he says Monday's charges don't reach to the top.

"So far, the charges that have been presented really don't have anything to do with Trump," Blessing said.

Are the conspiracy charges facing Manafort and Gates comparable to treason? Attorney said no. 

"It's undoubtedly a felony," he said. "I wouldn't put it on the same level as treason. Basically, it's conspiracy to commit these acts that are alleged against the United States."

Regardless, there lies a long legal road ahead for all involved, especially Manafort.

"He's gonna have a big uphill battle."

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