Yesterday saw the probe led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into possible unlawful collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government deliver its first criminal indictments. Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort was indicted on 12 charges based mostly upon money laundering offences, which stretch back to a period mostly before he was working on Trump’s campaign. Rick Gates, another former Trump campaign aide, was indicted on similar charges. While the charges appear to have little to do with President Trump, they are enough to send both men to jail for the rest of their lives, and are backed by effectively unlimited legal resources that will far exceed the financial capacities of both men. A plea bargain will undoubtedly be offered in exchange for providing dirt on something closer to the President, as per the usual strategy of such American investigations. Both men have pleaded not guilty and are currently robustly protesting their innocence.
A third, unexpected development may be more worrying for the President: it was revealed yesterday a minor aide, George Papadopoulos, was secretly arrested last July and has already pleaded guilty to the charge of lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. The legal battles have begun and will probably consume the energies of both sides of the political divide in the U.S.A. as the President’s opponents work towards his premature removal from office. President Trump has dismissed the process as a politically motivated “witch hunt”, and has robustly asserted there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russian government.
The Bank of Japan issued its monthly policy guidance a few hours ago, leaving interest rates unchanged, and providing no surprises. The Governor of the Bank of Japan, Haruhiko Kuroda, stated in the presser following the release that there would be no change to the Bank’s policy of proceeding with strong monetary easing to raise inflation to the target rate of 2% as soon as possible. The Yen had been strengthening in recent hours, but has stabilized and is largely unchanged against the U.S. Dollar at 113.13.