A federal grand jury has indicted a former Trump campaign aide on three felony counts, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and has indicted three former Trump aides.
The indictments unsealed Monday night allege that James Alefantis, a former campaign chairman, had sought to obtain government funding to hire a private investigator who was to help him obtain the FBI’s help with a probe into Trump’s campaign’s possible ties to Russian interference in the 2016 election.
In a statement, Alefants attorney, Joshua Pollack, called the indictments “a very troubling development” in a case that has drawn widespread criticism in the media.
Alefantis was indicted in a criminal complaint unsealed last month, just days after the Justice Department revealed that former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski had pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI about his interactions with the Russian government.
“It’s very concerning to me that we have just had the grand jury indictment today, and it comes just days before the special counsel investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia,” Pollack said.
The indictment comes as Congress is investigating whether Trump or anyone close to him colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign.
In the latest development, AleFantis, 43, was arrested by federal agents in July 2016 at a home in Washington, D.C. He was taken to the same jail that housed President Donald Trump, according to his lawyer, and he faces charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and conspiracy to impede the investigation of the 2016 presidential election.
The indictment does not identify the individuals arrested.
In August 2016, the New York Times reported that federal agents had wiretapped Alefantes phone during the election and that they obtained audio recordings of conversations he had with then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, as well as a private conversation with a top adviser, Jared Kushner.
The New York Post also reported that the Justice and Treasury Departments launched a criminal investigation into whether Manafort, a longtime Trump adviser, broke campaign finance laws by accepting payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.
The Post report said that the Trump Organization had agreed to pay $150,000 to settle claims of foreign bribery charges.
In his statement, Pollack called the indictment a “serious development” and “significant blow to the Trump administration.”
“It is important to note that the federal grand juries that have indicted the Trump associates have done so based on the same evidence used to prosecute the president himself,” he said.
“The grand jury was only informed of the allegations against James AleFantes by the Trump Administration, and the government has now filed a motion for dismissal, alleging that the grand jury acted without sufficient cause.”
The indictment does identify one other person, Andrew Weissmann, who was indicted last month in connection with the 2016 federal elections and has pleaded not guilty.
Pollack says Weissmann is the only person in the case charged with violating the Espionage Act, which prohibits disclosing classified information.