The biggest tax wonk in Congress is having a frustrating morning.
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates were told to surrender Monday morning following reports over the weekend that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had filed the first indictment in his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
The Manafort and Gates indictment was unsealed Monday morning and contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, giving false and misleading FARA statements, giving false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, according to the Department of Justice.
A third court filing unsealed on Monday also named former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who was arrested in July and pleaded guilty to the FBI after making false statement to lead investigators astray. The documents reveal his attempts to conspire with Russian officials in the midst of the 2016 campaign. (Papadopoulos has been cooperating with the FBI since his arrest.)
Monday’s news bombshell comes as Republicans in Congress, under House Speaker Paul Ryan’s leadership, are attempting to overhaul the tax code, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in over 30 years. Instead, Ryan has been forced to confront questions regarding Manafort, Mueller, and Gates, rather than his pet tax reform project.
Ryan, however, doesn’t plan on letting the news get in the way of regular business.
During an interview with a Wisconsin radio station, Ryan was asked to respond to the morning’s top news story. Ryan responded by saying, “I really don’t have anything to add other than nothing is going to derail what we’re doing in Congress.”
Ryan hasn’t made any other statements regarding the Manafort arrest as of Monday afternoon. Ryan’s press secretary tweeted that the investigation should be left to the “professionals at [the] DOJ.”
It's an ongoing investigation and we need to let the professionals at DOJ continue to do their job.
— AshLee Strong (@AshLeeStrong) October 30, 2017
Republicans in Congress are working on a tight deadline to pass tax reform, something they desperately need following three failed attempts at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. The Ways & Means Committee is planning on unveiling its initial tax reform bill on Wednesday, in anticipation of it being marked up the following week.
During Monday’s White House press briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House hoped it would be passed by Thanksgiving.
Update 2:33 PM:
House Speaker Paul Ryan refuses to comment on the indictments because he “doesn’t want to speculate on something [he] hasn’t read.”