The Vox guide to Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team indicted or got guilty pleas from 34 people and three companies during their lengthy investigation.
That group is composed of six former Trump advisers, 26 Russian nationals, three Russian companies, one California man, and one London-based lawyer. Seven of these people (including five of the six former Trump advisers) have pleaded guilty.
If you also count investigations that Mueller originated but then referred elsewhere in the Justice Department, you can add a plea deal from one more person to the list.
It’s a sprawling set of allegations, encompassing both election interference charges against overseas Russians, and various other crimes by American Trump advisers.
However, Mueller did not allege any crimes directly connecting the two — that is, that Trump advisers criminally conspired with Russian officials to impact the election.
Other reported focuses of Mueller’s investigation — such as potential obstruction of justice by the Trump administration — also did not result in any charges.
Justice Department officials told reporters Friday that this is the final list, and that no more indictments are coming from the special counsel’s probe.
The full list of Mueller indictments and plea deals
1) George Papadopoulos, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, was arrested in July 2017 and pleaded guilty in October 2017 to making false statements to the FBI. He got a 14-day sentence.
2) Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair, was indicted on a total of 25 different counts by Mueller’s team, related mainly to his past work for Ukrainian politicians and his finances. He had two trials scheduled, and the first ended in a conviction on eight counts of financial crimes. To avert the second trial, Manafort struck a plea deal with Mueller in September 2018 (though Mueller’s team said in November that he breached that agreement by lying to them). He was sentenced to a combined seven and a half years in prison.
3) Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign aide and Manafort’s longtime junior business partner, was indicted on similar charges to Manafort. But in February 2018 he agreed to a plea deal with Mueller’s team, pleading guilty to just one false statements charge and one conspiracy charge.
4) Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty in December 2017 to making false statements to the FBI.
5-20) 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies were indicted on conspiracy charges, with some also being accused of identity theft. The charges related to a Russian propaganda effort designed to interfere with the 2016 campaign. The companies involved are the Internet Research Agency, often described as a “Russian troll farm,” and two other companies that helped finance it. The Russian nationals indicted include 12 of the agency’s employees and its alleged financier, Yevgeny Prigozhin.
21) Richard Pinedo: This California man pleaded guilty to an identity theft charge in connection with the Russian indictments, and has agreed to cooperate with Mueller. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison and 6 months of home detention in October 2018.
22) Alex van der Zwaan: This London lawyer pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Rick Gates and another unnamed person based in Ukraine. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and has completed his sentence.
23) Konstantin Kilimnik: This longtime business associate of Manafort and Gates, who’s currently based in Russia, was charged alongside Manafort with attempting to obstruct justice by tampering with witnesses in Manafort’s pending case last year.
24-35) 12 Russian GRU officers: These officers of Russia’s military intelligence service were charged with crimes related to the hacking and leaking of leading Democrats’ emails in 2016.
36) Michael Cohen: In August 2018, Trump’s former lawyer pleaded guilty to 8 counts — tax and bank charges, related to his finances and taxi business, and campaign finance violations — related to hush money payments to women who alleged affairs with Donald Trump, as part of a separate investigation in New York (that Mueller had handed off). But in November, he made a plea deal with Mueller too, for lying to Congress about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
37) Roger Stone: In January 2019, Mueller indicted longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone on 7 counts. He accused Stone of lying to the House Intelligence Committee about his efforts to get in touch with WikiLeaks during the campaign, and tampering with a witness who could have debunked his story. He was convicted on all counts after a November 2019 trial.
Finally, there is one other person Mueller initially investigated, but handed over to others in the Justice Department to charge: Sam Patten. This Republican operative and lobbyist pleaded guilty to not registering as a foreign agent with his work for Ukrainian political bigwigs, and agreed to cooperate with the government.
That’s the full list, but we’ll delve into the charges in a bit more detail below.
The five ex-Trump aides who struck plea deals with Mueller
So far, no Trump associates have been specifically charged with any crimes relating to helping Russia interfere with the 2016 election.
Yet five have pleaded guilty to other crimes. Manafort and Gates were charged with a series of offenses related to their past work for Ukrainian politicians and their finances. Papadopoulos and Flynn both admitted making false statements to investigators to hide their contacts with Russians, and Cohen admitted making false statements to Congress.
Papadopoulos: Back in April 2016, Papadopoulos got a tip from a foreign professor he understood to have Russian government connections that the Russians had “dirt” on Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.” He then proceeded to have extensive contacts with the professor and two Russian nationals, during which he tried to plan a Trump campaign trip to Russia.
But when the FBI interviewed Papadopoulos about all this in January 2017, he repeatedly lied about what happened, he now admits. So he was arrested in July 2017, and later agreed to plead guilty to a false statements charge, which was dramatically unsealed in October 2017.
Initially, it seemed as if Papadopoulos was cooperating with Mueller’s probe. But we later learned that the special counsel cut off contact with him in late 2017, after he talked to the press. In the end, he didn’t provide much information of note, Mueller’s team said in court filing. His involvement with the investigation now appears to be over, and in September 2018, he was sentenced to 14 days incarceration.
Flynn: In December 2016, during the transition, Flynn spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about sanctions that President Barack Obama had just placed on Russia, and about a planned United Nations Security Council vote condemning Israeli settlements.
But when FBI agents interviewed him about all this in January 2017, Flynn lied to them about what his talks with Kislyak entailed, he now admits. In December 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to a false statements charge and began cooperating with Mueller’s investigation. We haven’t seen the fruits of his cooperation yet, and he has not yet been sentenced.
Manafort and Gates: This pair worked for Ukrainian politicians (and, eventually, the Ukrainian government) for several years prior to the Trump campaign, and made an enormous amount of money for it. Mueller charged them with hiding their lobbying work and the money they made from it from the government, as well as other financial crimes and attempts to interfere with the investigation.
Gates was the first to strike a plea deal. In February, Mueller dropped most of the charges he had brought against him. In exchange, Gates pleaded guilty to two counts — one conspiracy to defraud the United States charge encompassing the overall Ukrainian lobbying and money allegations, and a false statements charge. (With the latter, Gates admitted lying to Mueller’s team during a meeting this February. A Dutch lawyer, Alex van der Zwaan, also pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI related to his Ukrainian work with Gates.)
Manafort, meanwhile, fought the charges in two venues, Washington, DC, and Virginia. His first trial was in Virginia, and in August, it ended with his conviction on eight counts — five counts of subscribing to false income tax returns, one count of failing to report his foreign bank accounts, and two counts of bank fraud. The jury deadlocked on another 10 counts, so for those, the judge declared a mistrial.
The conviction finally brought Manafort to the table, and on September 14, he and Mueller’s team struck a plea deal requiring his cooperation. Manafort pleaded guilty to just two more counts — conspiracy to defraud the United States, and an attempted obstruction of justice charge. But he admitted that the other allegations Mueller previously made against him were true as well. The cooperation element of his plea deal fell apart in November, though, as Mueller’s team accused Manafort of lying to them. Manafort ended up being sentenced to a combined seven and a half years in prison.
Cohen: Mueller’s team was investigating Trump’s former attorney in 2017, but at some point, they referred the Cohen probe to the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY). It was SDNY that authorized the FBI raid of Cohen’s residence and office in April.
In August, Cohen cut a deal with SDNY. He agreed to plead guilty to 8 counts. Six of them involved his own finances — 5 tax counts involving hiding various income related to his taxi medallion business and other financial transactions from the US government, and a bank fraud count. Cohen also admitted participating in a scheme to violate campaign finance laws in connection with hush money payments to women alleging affairs with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Then, in November, Cohen made his deal with Mueller. Here, he agreed to plead guilty to making false statements to Congress, to try and cover up his work on behalf of a Trump Tower Moscow project during the campaign.
Cohen had told Congress that the Trump Tower Moscow project ended early in the campaign, that he hadn’t discussed it much with others at Trump’s company, and that he hadn’t successfully gotten in touch with the Russian government about it.
In fact, he now admits, the project was still active months later, he’d talked about it with Trump more than he’d admitted (and with unnamed Trump family members), and he’d talked about it with an assistant for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary.
Roger Stone was the final Trump associate indicted in the investigation
Then, on January 25, another political operative with a decades-long history with Trump — Roger Stone — was indicted.
Various statements by Stone, including many public ones, raised questions about whether he had some sort of inside knowledge about WikiLeaks’s posting of Democrats’ hacked emails during the 2016 campaign.
Stone has long denied having any such knowledge — and claimed that anything he knew about WikiLeaks came through an intermediary, radio host Randy Credico. Mueller’s indictment alleges that this story was false — and that Stone’s telling it to the House Intelligence Committee was criminal.
Mueller’s indictment of Stone alleges that the GOP operative gave a false story to explain his knowledge about WikiLeaks.
Stone was accused of lying about this to the House Intelligence Committee in 2017, and trying to tamper with a witness — Credico — so that he would stick to that false story. And, after a November 2019 trial, Stone was found guilty on all counts.
About two dozen overseas Russians have been charged with election interference
Mueller has also filed two major indictments of Russian nationals and a few Russian companies for crimes related to alleged interference with the 2016 election: the troll farm indictment, and the email hacking indictment.
The troll farm indictment: In February, Mueller brought charges related to the propaganda efforts of one Russian group in particular: the Internet Research Agency. That group’s operations — which included social media posts, online ads, and organization of rallies in the US — were, the indictment alleges, often (but not exclusively) aimed at denigrating Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy and supporting Donald Trump’s.
Mueller indicted the Internet Research Agency, two other shell companies involved in financing the agency, its alleged financier (Yevgeny Prigozhin), and 12 other Russian nationals who allegedly worked for it.
The specific charges in the case include one broad “conspiracy to defraud the United States” count, but the rest are far narrower — one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and six counts of identity theft. It is highly unlikely that the indicted Russian individuals will ever come to the US to face trial, but one company involved, Concord Catering, is fighting back in court.
No Americans have been charged with being witting participants in this Russian election interference effort. However, one American, Richard Pinedo of California, pleaded guilty to an identity fraud charge, seemingly because he sold bank account numbers created with stolen identities to the Russians. Pinedo agreed to cooperate with the probe as part of his plea deal. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison and 6 months home detention in October.
The email hacking indictment: Brought in July, here Mueller charged 12 officers of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, with crimes committed to the high-profile hacking and leaking of leading Democrats’ emails during the 2016 campaign.
Specifically indicted were nine officers of the GRU’s “Unit 26165,” which Mueller alleges “had primary responsibility for hacking the DCCC and DNC, as well as the email accounts of individuals affiliated with the Clinton Campaign” like John Podesta. Three other GRU officers, Mueller alleges, “assisted in the release of stolen documents,” “the promotion of those releases,” “and the publication of anti-Clinton content on social media accounts operated by the GRU.”
A trial here is unlikely, since all of the people indicted live in Russia.
Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime Manafort associate, has been charged with obstruction of justice
Then, Konstantin Kilimnik — who worked with Manafort in Ukraine and is now based in Russia — was charged alongside Manafort with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, in June.
Mueller argued that, earlier in 2018, Manafort and Kilimnik worked together to contact potential witnesses against Manafort and encourage them to give false testimony. He argues that this is attempted witness tampering, and qualifies as obstruction of justice.
The alleged tampering relates to the “