After months of speculation and suspense, the first round of indictments in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation were handed down, confirming what I had suspected all along.
Amongst those indicted was former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. Manafort is accused of funneling millions of dollars to offshore shell companies and then using the money to buy luxuries such as expensive cars and antiques while avoiding taxation.
Manafort’s longtime associate, Rick Gates, is accused of similar charges, and a foreign policy advisor on President Donald Trump’s campaign, George Papadopoulos, has already pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with a professor with Russian connections.
The accusation that Manafort laundered $18 million with the help of his mentee is a hefty charge to fight, but he and Gates pleaded not guilty. The trial will take months to play out, but this accusation, combined with Papadopoulos’s admittance of guilt, raises the question about the culture and behavior of those in the Trump campaign, as well as Trump himself.
Trump took to Twitter as the news of the charges against his former campaign officials broke. He claimed that Manafort had committed his crimes before he had joined the Trump campaign while accusing the Democrats and Hillary Clinton of making a false dossier.
Trump is partially correct as reports have surfaced that the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign paid for access to the dossier. The Democrats certainly have a lot to answer for in terms of the accusation that a lawyer for the Clinton campaign hired the firm behind the dossier using campaign funds.
In general, the entire situation is extremely demoralizing. At best, the Trump campaign is only guilty of minor crimes, and at worst, both political parties are guilty of extremely serious offenses.
It will be months and possibly even years before we know exactly what happened in the time preceding the presidential election of 2016, but it is not too early to think about what needs to change.
The United States was founded on the principles of equality and democracy, but it now appears that these principles were neglected by politicians and citizens alike during the election. The accusations of money laundering and collusion point to campaigns that wanted to win at the expense of their ethics and morality.
The most concerning part of the entire saga is that it worked. Donald Trump and the tactics of his campaign resulted in his election as the 45th President of the United States. The man whose campaign has been under investigation since May is now “the leader of the free world.”
I do not necessarily wish that Hillary Clinton had won instead, but I do hope that we can remember our values the next time we are faced with electing a president.