One of the men who pleaded not guilty Monday in the ongoing probe of the 2016 election has deep Connecticut ties.
Paul Manafort, who served as President Donald Trump’s campaign manager, began his political career helping his father during the latter’s three terms as mayor of New Britain beginning in 1965.
The charges against him include money laundering and conspiracy. If convicted, he could serve up to 15 years in a federal prison. Senator Richard Blumenthal said the case uncovers ties between Manafort and Russia.
“We know today that the Trump presidential campaign was run by, in effect, a Russian foreign agent who is now charged with conspiring against the United States,” Blumenthal said.
A day before the indictment came down, President Trump blasted the investigation on Twitter calling it a “witch hunt” led by Democrats.
..."collusion," which doesn't exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R's...
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 29, 2017
“The president can call it whatever he wishes but these indictments are a chilling story of blatant conspiracy against the United States and we need to allow the investigation to move forward without any political interference,” Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal used to be the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut. One of his successors in the job was Stan Twardy. Now, Twardy is managing partner at a law firm in Stamford. He said that it could be awhile before anything happens legally to Manafort or Richard Gates, his business associate who was also indicted.
“You’re talking about months if not into a year from now before these guys go to trial,” Twardy said.
Twardy said a temporary trial date and a period of discovery for the defendants’ representation will be set later this week. But it could take up to 18 months in total for a complete resolution.
If the investigation were to have far-reaching implications, Twardy said that not only would special counsel Robert Mueller have to connect Manafort to Russia, but he’d have to also implicate the president.
Twardy believes that can happen if Mueller, who Twardy characterized as a “straight-shooter” who does things by the book, finds more collaborators.
“What other peripheral figures come into the forefront and what ties do they have into where?” Twardy asked.
He pointed to Monday’s reveal of the George Papadopoulos guilty plea as step in that direction for Mueller.