The Daily Beast reported in October that at least 18 people connected to former President Donald Trump had been arrested, indicted or jailed since the real estate mogul announced his candidacy in 2015, despite his promise to hire only “the best” people.
“I’m going to surround myself only with the best and most serious people,” Trump told The Washington Post in August 2015. “We want top of the line professionals.”
Since then, it’s become clear Trump has a dubious understanding of “best.” At least 18 shady figures in the president’s orbit have either been arrested or gone to jail since he took office, on charges from fraud to battery to child pornography. While many of those charges stem from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference in 2016, several other politicians and donors have been convicted of crimes unrelated to the president.
Those in Trump’s orbit who have had run-ins with the law so far include the following, though several have since landed Trump pardons.
1. Paul Manafort
Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort “was sentenced in March to more than seven years in prison after being convicted of charges stemming from two separate cases brought by Special Counsel Mueller.”
2. Rick Gates
Rick Gates, also a former Trump campaign official, “was sentenced to three years of probation and 45 days in jail last December after famously flipping on the president during the Mueller investigation. As part of a plea deal, the longtime Manafort deputy admitted to several crimes, including conspiracy and lying to investigators.”
3. Michael Flynn
Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, “flipped on the Trump campaign in December 2017 after pleading guilty to making false statements about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States weeks before the inauguration.”
Flynn later claimed “he was coerced into a guilty plea by prosecutors and federal agents” and Attorney General William Barr attempted to have the case dismissed.
However, The Daily Beast noted: “Refusing to give in to outside pressure, a federal judge presiding over the case appointed an outside adviser to argue against dismissal, and the case is still alive.”
4. Michael Cohen
Trump’s former personal attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen “was sentenced in 2018 to three years in prison after pleading guilty to lying to Congress about hush-money payments and plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.”
5. Ken Kurson
A friend of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and also a former Trump speechwriter, Ken Kurson “was arrested in October on cyberstalking charges in New York.”
Authorities allege Kurson repeatedly visited his victims at work, made false complaints to their employers, and engaged in “malicious cyber activity” that came to light in 2018 while he was being vetted by the FBI for an unpaid advisory role in the Trump administration. Kurson was also once a close confidant of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
6. Roger Stone
Longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone was “convicted of lying to Congress about his connection to WikiLeaks and intimidating another witness to do the same, received a presidential pardon in July just before he was set to report to jail.”
7. George Papadopoulos
Former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos “was sentenced in 2018 to 14 days in jail and fined nearly $10,000 for lying to the FBI during interviews about his contacts with Russians during the election.”
8. Corey Lewandowski
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski “was charged in March 2016 with misdemeanor simple battery after allegedly grabbing the arm of a former Breitbart reporter at a Florida campaign event.”
Lewandowski has also been accused of unwanted touching by singer Joy Villa—a Trump supporter best known for wearing a MAGA dress to the 2017 Grammy Awards—and calling a female co-worker a “fucking bitch.” While Lewandowski was fired from the Trump campaign in June 2016, he is currently a Trump campaign adviser.
9. Steve Bannon
Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon “was arrested in August for allegedly using profits from the viral “We Build the Wall” fundraising campaign to enrich himself.”
10. Brad Parscale
Former manager of Trump’s 2020 campaign Brad Parscale “was arrested in September after his wife called police to report that he planned to harm himself.”
According to the police report, Parscale’s wife also said he pulled out a loaded firearm in front of her and physically assaulted her during a prior dispute. After a three-hour standoff with Fort Lauderdale police, Parscale was detained and taken to Broward Health Medical Center for psychiatric evaluation under the state’s Baker Act. Authorities seized 10 firearms from his house.
Parscale reportedly “is also under investigation over his use of millions of dollars of campaign funds.”
11. Elliott Broidy
Former top Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy “pleaded guilty this month to conspiring to influence the president’s administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests.”
12. George Nader
George Nader, a Lebanese American businessman who served as a key witness in Mueller’s investigation, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in June after pleading guilty to child porn and child sex-trafficking charges.
13. Imaad Zuberi
Los Angeles financier Imaad Zuberi, “who donated $900,000 to President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, pleaded guilty last October to falsifying records to hide his work as a foreign agent while he lobbied prominent U.S. government officials.”
14. & 15. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman
Soviet-born businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, “were arrested last October for allegedly violating campaign-finance laws through a six-figure donation they facilitated to Trump’s official super PAC.”
The case was the first criminal prosecution related to an apparent Trumpworld pressure campaign to coerce Ukrainian officials into digging up dirt on Trump’s political opponents for the 2020 re-election campaign. The scheme, which included tracking down damaging information on former Vice President Joe Biden, was at the center of the failed impeachment inquiry.
In September, Parnas and David Correia, another former Giuliani associate, were charged with conspiring to defraud investors via an insurance company, lying to the Federal Elections Commission, and falsifying records.
16. Rep. Chris Collins
Former New York Rep. Chris Collins was sentenced to 26 months in prison in January after slipping his son an illegal tip about a biotechnology company’s failed drug trial and later lying to authorities about it. Collins, who was the first member of Congress to endorse Trump in 2016 and remained a staunch supporter, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of lying to the FBI.
17. Former Rep. Duncan Hunter
Former Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) “was sentenced to 11 months in prison and three years of parole in March after admitting he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds to enrich himself.”
Prosecutors said Hunter, who endorsed Trump for president in 2016, and his wife spent approximately $250,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses—including vacations and credit-card payments—and falsifying Federal Election Commission reports to cover their tracks.
18. Sam Patten
Sam Patten, a Republican lobbyist and operative who previously worked alongside Trump campaign data firm Cambridge Analytica, was sentenced to probation last April after admitting to trying to buy Trump inaugural tickets for a Ukrainian oligarch.
Image credit: Screengrabs / YouTube