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History Behind The Headlines

News surrounding the 2016 U.S. presidential election, including the Russian government’s involvement, continues to break. Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was indicted on charges that he laundered millions of dollars through overseas companies. The money stems to Manafort’s involvement lobbying for a pro-Russian party in Ukraine. Manafort’s associate, Rick Gates, who worked on the Trump campaign, was also charged.

Robert Mueller, who leads the special investigation, said that George Papadopoulos, former foreign policy adviser to Trump, pled guilty to lying to the F.B.I. Mueller also announced that Papadopoulos is cooperating with the investigation after initially failing to disclose his connections with officials close to the Russian government. Court documents state that investigators believe Russian officials offered Papadopoulos “dirt” on Trump’s opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton.  

On Twitter, Trump questioned the nature of the investigation. 

As to the charges against Papadopoulos, Trump tweeted that few on the campaign knew Papadopoulos, “who has already proven to be a liar.”

Meanwhile, Democrats are concerned about interruptions to Mueller’s investigation, including possible presidential pardons. Michigan representative Dan Kildee called the charges “serious and unprecedented.” “Special counsel Mueller must be able to continue his investigation without interference,” he added with the hashtag #FollowTheFacts. In a statement, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi stressed the need for an “outside, fully independent investigation” to defend “the integrity of our democracy.”

The on-going investigation in the nature of Russian officials’ involvement in the 2016 presidential election is the latest installment of a long, complicated, and often incredibly dramatic history, of U.S./Russia relations.

To learn more, check out BackStory’s “Seeing Red: A History of U.S./Russia Relations” and our upcoming show on the Bolshevik Revolution, debuting on Nov. 10.

About History Behind The Headlines: When breaking news and history collide, BackStory brings the context. This new blog feature takes trending news items and, whenever possible, offers BackStory host commentary or segments from previous episodes that provide a historical viewpoint.