Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sam Jayne / Axios

Robert Mueller's Russia investigation has been conducted almost entirely in secret. Today, the Special Counsel made two very public moves, issuing indictments against former campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates and revealing that George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to the campaign, has already pleaded guilty to lying to investigators and been actively cooperating with the probe.

Below, we round up how it all went down, why it matters, and where we go from here.

How it went down
  • Shortly before 8am: News drops that the looming indictments are for Manafort and Gates
  • 8:15am: Manafort turns himself in
  • 9am: The indictment showing the charges against Manafort and Gates is released
  • 10:25am: Trump takes to Twitter
  • 10:30am: The Papadopoulos news breaks
  • 1:30pm: Manafort and Gates appear in court, pleading "not guilty" to all charges
The charges

Manafort and Gates face: Conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading Foreign Agent Registration Act statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. Manafort faces up to about 15 year in prison and Gates up to about 10.

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to federal officials about his contacts with Russians. He faces zero to six months in prison under the plea deal.

Go deeper: Read the indictment

Inside the West Wing

Just minutes before the senior-most White House staff walked into Roosevelt Room for their morning meeting with Chief of Staff John Kelly, their phones lit up with news alerts of the first indictments in the Mueller probe.

There was relief that it was Manafort and not Michael Flynn. But there was also concern.

Go inside the meeting with Axios' Jonathan Swan

Inside the courtroom

Manafort appeared in person, with his lawyer saying he "definitely disagrees with the strength of the indictment" against him. Gates' court-appointed lawyer said he was invoking the 5th Amendment, and planned to hire private counsel. Both pleaded not guilty, and they are now under house arrest.

Go inside the room with Axios' Alexi McCammond

What's the White House saying?

Sarah Sanders dismissed the indictments of Manafort and Gates at today's press briefing, and described Papadopoulos as an irrelevant "volunteer" on the campaign.

"We're not worried about it distracting because it doesn't have anything to do with us ... The real collusion has everything to do with the Clinton campaign," she said.

Go deeper: Highlights from the briefing

What's Trump saying?
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Sanders said Trump received the news "without a lot of reaction, because it doesn't have anything to do with us."

The Washington Post paints a different picture, of a "fuming" Trump: "Separated from most of his West Wing staff — who fretted over why he was late getting to the Oval Office — Trump clicked on the television and spent the morning playing fuming media critic, legal analyst and crisis communications strategist, according to several people close to him."

What are Democrats saying?

They're worried that Trump will interfere with Mueller's investigation, or even try to have him fired. Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders and Mark Warner were among those sounding the alarm.

Go deeper: Read the full piece

What's are top Republicans saying?

Generally, as little as possible. Here's Paul Ryan: "I really don't have anything to add, other than nothing's going to derail what we're doing in Congress."

How Mueller closed in on Manafort

2014:

  • The FBI begins investigating Manafort over his consulting work in Ukraine.
  • As a part of that investigation, the FBI obtains a FISA warrant to wiretap Manafort, per CNN. It was discontinued at some point in 2016, and later renewed.

2016:

  • March 28: Manafort joins the Trump campaign, tasked with wrangling delegates for the convention.
  • May 19: Manafort is promoted to campaign chairman.
  • June 9: Manafort attends the Trump Tower meeting at which Donald Trump Jr. had been told he'd receive dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government's efforts to help his father win.
  • August 19: Manafort quits the campaign, with Jared Kushner reportedly telling him if he doesn't resign immediately he'll be fired.

2017:

  • October 30: Manafort surrenders to authorities.

Go deeper: Check out the full timeline

Who is Gates?

Manafort's former business partner and protege. He followed Manafort onto the campaign and stayed after Manafort was forced out, even visiting the White House after Trump took office.

"[He could] go to jail because his long-term partner decided to go work for Donald Trump," Paul Rosenzweig, former deputy secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security, told Axios. "What he did likely would not have seen the light of day...He's my Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer squared character in this drama...the man whose life is ruined by being sucked into the Trump tornado."

Go deeper: Read the full piece

Who is Papadopoulos?

As Swan writes, he was something of a "campaign nobody": Many top figures on the campaign genuinely had no idea who he was. Some White House officials had to resort to Google when the news broke this morning.

In March 2016, Papadopoulos tried to set up a meeting with Russian leadership and the Trump campaign team. He sent an email to the foreign policy team, according to Washington Post, promising a "meeting with Russian Leadership - Including Putin."

Go deeper: Read the full piece

Remaining questions
  • The events in question took place just days after Papadopoulos joined the campaign. So was Papadopoulos — known for embellishing details of his resume in the past — making legitimate overtures or just a young staffer trying to impress his bosses with foreign policy connections?
  • What did he have to offer Mueller in order to strike the deal?

Go deeper: Read the full piece

Smart takes
  • Lawfare blog: "Mueller's opening bid is a remarkable show of strength. He has a cooperating witness from inside the campaign's interactions with the Russians. And he is alleging not mere technical infractions of law but astonishing criminality on the part of Trump's campaign manager, a man who also attended the Trump Tower meeting."
  • Daily Beast's Lachlan Markay: "Before Manafort/Gates, DOJ had brought just four criminal prosecutions under FARA in the last 10 years. All resulted in convictions."
  • Matthew Miller, DOJ spokesman under Obama: "Mueller's choreographed one-two punch today sends a signal to every Trump official: cooperate & get a good deal or resist & get hammered."
Worth noting

Tony Podesta is stepping down as the head of his powerhouse lobbying firm, The Podesta Group, per Politico. The firm got pulled into Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation over public relations work it completed on behalf of Paul Manafort to promote Ukrainian interests in the United States. Podesta's brother John was Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman.

Catch up quick
What's next?

Manafort and Gates have their next hearing on Thursday, but their trial is likely at least six months away. Beyond that, only Mueller really knows. Meanwhile, a number of folks around town will be jumping every time they hear a knock on the door.

Bonus

Axios' Erica Pandey recaps a busy news day…

  • First Mueller indictments
  • Kevin Spacey allegations
  • Mark Halperin out at MSNBC
  • Record high levels of atmospheric CO2 reported
  • Court blocks transgender troop ban
  • Benghazi suspect captured
  • Huge Facebook/Google/Twitter Russia news
  • Weinstein assault count rises
  • House changes its tune on corporate tax rate
  • Tony Podesta steps down from his lobbying firm
  • FBI looking into shady Whitefish/P.R. contract

Got all that….? See you tomorrow in the Axios' stream, or in your inbox. Sign up for our newsletters here.

Go deeper

Senate Democrats reach deal on extending unemployment insurance

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Democrats struck a deal Friday evening to extend unemployment insurance in President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package after deliberating and halting other action for roughly nine hours, per a Senate aide.

Why it matters: The Senate can now resume voting on other amendments to the broader rescue bill.

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.