WASHINGTON, Feb 22 (Reuters) - U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed a new set of criminal charges on Thursday against President Donald Trump’s former campaign aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates that include bank and tax fraud, escalating a legal battle that started last year.
The charges were contained in a 32-count indictment against the two men that was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria.
Manafort and Gates are already facing criminal charges by Mueller’s office in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that include conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy to defraud the United States and failure to register as foreign agents for political work they did for a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party.
They were among the first to be charged, as part of Mueller’s ongoing investigation into whether the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Trump has denied any collusion took place.
The latest indictment includes allegations of wrongdoing as recently as January 2017 and said Manafort and Gates were desperate for cash when their lobbying business dried up.
The indictment charged they were able to secure more than $20 million in loans by falsely inflating the income of Manafort and his lobbying firm and failing to disclose existing debt.
A spokesman for Manafort did not immediately comment on the new charges, and a lawyer for Gates could not be immediately reached.