President Trump boasted during the 2016 campaign that he had “the greatest people” and would get “the best people” to join his administration.
These days, it seems he can’t catch a break, in terms of the many indictments and criminal investigations into his current and former associates.
Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY)
Collins was the first member of Congress to endorse Trump, and has remained close with him ever since. On Wednesday, Collins was charged with securities fraud and lying to federal agents. Collins was actually caught on a CBS News feed at the White House picnic last year, allegedly calling his son to tell him to sell stock in Australian biotech company Innate. Collins Sr. was on Innate’s board and one of its largest shareholders, and according to prosecutors, after he received nonpublic information about a failed drug trial, he relayed the information to his son, who quickly sold his own stock, allowing them to avoid more than $700,000 worth of losses.
Lewandowski was Trump’s first campaign manager. During the campaign, he was charged with battery against Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields, after he was caught on camera yanking her arm in an apparent effort to keep her from Trump. He was arrested in Florida in March 2016, and a month later, authorities dropped the charges. Lewandowski was also accused of sexual harassment by singer and Trump supporter Joy Villa last year.
Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has been in prison since June, after being charged last year with conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, being an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, making false and misleading FARA statements, making false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. He is currently on trial in Alexandria, Virginia, for money laundering and tax fraud charges.
Gates, Manafort’s former business associate, was also charged with similar crimes. He has been cooperating with authorities since February, when he pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements and one count of conspiracy against the United States. Gates was the deputy chairman on the Trump campaign under Manafort and stayed on after Manafort left the campaign. He has testified under oath in Manafort’s tax fraud trial that he and the political consultant committed crimes together, laundering $30 million in funds from foreign governments who had paid the two for lobbying work, and helping Manafort falsify loan documents to obtain funding when the foreign payments dried up.
Flynn, a former Army lieutenant general, was Trump’s top foreign policy adviser on the campaign, and followed Trump through the transition to the White House, where Trump tapped him to be national security adviser. Flynn was fired a few weeks into his tenure because, Trump said, Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence about his dealings with a Russian ambassador prior to Trump’s inauguration. In December 2017, Flynn was taken into federal custody and charged with making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI. He pleaded guilty and has since been cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and allegations of obstruction against Trump and his associates.
George Papadopoulos worked on the Trump campaign as a senior foreign policy adviser, and last year pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his relationships with Russians and Russian intermediaries during the 2016 campaign. Trump advisers subsequently tried to dub Papadopoulos a “coffee boy,” and Trump himself called him a “low-level volunteer.” In fact, Trump told the Washington Post in March 2016 that he was an “excellent guy.”
Cohen, Trump’s longtime “fixer” and personal attorney, has not yet been indicted on any charges, but is currently under investigation on allegations of tax fraud, in connection with his taxi business. Earlier this year, FBI agents also raided his office and residences, on a referral from Mueller’s office. Agents were searching for evidence related to payments he made to several women who claim to have had affairs with Trump. One of those women, adult film actress Stormy Daniels, says Cohen paid her $30,000 to stay quiet about her alleged affair with Trump, weeks ahead of the 2016 election.
Audio recording obtained during the FBI raid also features Cohen and Trump discussing a proposed payment to American Media Inc., to purchase the account of former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who says she also had a sexual relationship with Trump around the time his third wife, Melania, was pregnant with their son. McDougal claims AMI — whose CEO, David Pecker, is close friends with Trump — purchased exclusive rights to her account to keep her quiet in the days leading up to the election, shelving the story in an industry practice known as “catch and kill.”