The two men are the first people to be charged in the investigation by Mueller into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia and Moscow’s interference in the election last year.
Four sources told NBC News that there was a statute of limitations issue in play that may have helped drive Monday’s charges by Mueller.
READ: The full indictment
The sources said the indictment does not preclude other charges being filed against Manafort in the future.
The news was first reported
A White House source said officials there are “not surprised” to see movement from the special counsel, adding: “The White House has been saying for weeks the special counsel is moving far more quickly and deliberatively than people have been reporting. The fact that the special counsel is actively performing its duties does not come as a surprise to the White House.”
House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said, “Even with an accelerating Special Counsel investigation inside the Justice Department, and investigations inside the Republican Congress, we still need an outside, fully independent investigation to expose Russia’s meddling in our election and the involvement of Trump officials. Defending the integrity of our democracy demands that Congress look forward to counter Russian aggression and prevent future meddling with our elections.”
NBC News confirmed on Friday that a federal grand jury in Washington had approved the first criminal charges in the special counsel’s probe, marking a significant milestone in an inquiry that’s roiled Trump’s presidency.
Andrew Harnik / AP
Manafort, who served on the Trump campaign from April to August 2016, has long been under investigation in connection with his lobbying work for a Russian-backed Ukrainian political party that also involved his former partner, Gates.
Legal experts have long predicted that Manafort would be charged and speculation ramped up after the FBI conducted an early-morning search in July at his Alexandria Virginia apartment using a “no-knock warrant.”
Gates is a lesser known figure, who worked with Manafort in Ukraine and flew to Moscow for meetings with associates of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who paid Manafort and Gates tens of millions of dollars, NBC News has reported.