John Kelly: Manafort, Gates Issues Predated Trump

President's chief of staff tells 'The Ingraham Angle' that the White House will 'let the legal justice system work'

The indictments of President Donald Trump’s former aides, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, were related to financial issues that long predated their associations with the campaign of Donald Trump, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told Laura Ingraham on her inaugural episode of “The Ingraham Angle.”

“All of the activity, as I understand it, they were indicted for, were long before they ever met Donald Trump or had any association with the campaign,” Kelly told Ingraham in an exclusive interview. “But I think the reaction of the administration is let the legal justice system work, everyone’s … presumed innocent. And we’ll see where it goes.”

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Kelly sat down with Ingraham, the founder of LifeZette, for her kickoff episode of “The Ingraham Angle,” the newest prime-time addition to the Fox News lineup. The show will air every weeknight at 10 p.m.

Ingraham asked Kelly if he was worried there would be more shoes to drop, as indictments start in the so-called “Russia collusion” case. Since May, Robert Mueller, special counsel for the Justice Department, has been investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

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Democrats have suggested since Trump won the election a year ago that his campaign may have been aided, inadvertently or with intent, by the Russian government.

On Monday, Mueller and the Justice Department indicted Manafort and Gates on 12 federal counts, including failing to register as foreign agents, and failure to file annual reports on overseas bank accounts. Manafort and Gates were indicted for financial crimes dating as far back as 2006. Most of the indictments involved political consulting work done for Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions, which was allied with Russia. Yanukovych was elected president of Ukraine in 2010, and was deposed in 2014 after months of protests.

Mueller has been unusually aggressive in his pursuit of the case, compelling one of Manafort and Gates’ attorneys to testify in court about their failure to register as foreign agents.

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Manafort’s lead attorney, Kevin Downing, mocked some of the charges on Monday, noting that the federal government has only convicted one lobbyist in 50 years on a Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) charge.

Mueller also indicted a former low-level campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, for misleading federal agents. But Papadopoulos was an unpaid volunteer who attended only one meeting ever, according to press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and was long separated from Trump’s campaign.

Pundits speculated Papadopoulos likely wore a wire for Mueller until October 5, when he pleaded guilty.

Kelly would not speculate on how many more indictments would come, and said he and the White House staff are more focused on their day-to-day jobs.

“I think the staff is very comfortable with simply serving the nation, and the vast majority of the staff would have nothing to do with any of this kind of thing,” said Kelly.

In other remarks, Kelly told Ingraham that removing statues and plaques honoring Americans of the past can be a dangerous thing. Recently, leaders of the Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, said they removed two plaques dedicated to two late parishioners, George Washington and Robert E. Lee.

“I think it’s — it’s dangerous, I think,” said Kelly. “I think it’s just very, very dangerous, and it shows you … how much of a lack of appreciation of history and what history is.”

meet the author

Political reporter, LifeZette. Indiana University journalism grad. Boston U. business grad. Former Indiana, Alabama statehouse reporter, Daytona Beach editorial writer.

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