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Former U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn plead guilty in a Washington, D.C., court Friday to making false statements to the FBI. (Dec. 1) AP

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Four aides to President Trump face criminal charges in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Here's a look at who they are, their connections to Trump's campaign and presidency and their reported interactions with Russians.

Michael Flynn

Who is he: President Trump’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador while serving in the White House. Prosecutors charged that Flynn falsely told FBI agents in January that he did not ask Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to delay a vote on or defeat a pending United Nations Security Council resolution. Flynn resigned in February for misleading Vice President Pence and other officials about his contacts with Russian officials after the election. Federal investigators have been scrutinizing Flynn's activities as Trump's national security adviser and in a brief lobbying career on behalf of foreign interests. Flynn and his attorneys had made no secret of his desire for a deal to testify in exchange for immunity from possible prosecution. Earlier this year, he asserted his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination when he refused to turn over documents sought by the Senate Intelligence Committee. 

Connection To Trump: Served as National Security Adviser in Trump's White House for less than one month. The day after his Feb. 13 resignation, Flynn emerged as a central figure in yet another episode in the White House-Russia controversy. Former FBI Director James Comey has testified that Trump urged him at a private dinner to drop the investigation into Flynn’s contacts with the Russian ambassador. Trump denied asking Comey, who was fired in May, to drop the investigation into Flynn.

Connections To Russia: Flynn's contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were a central reason he was forced out of the White House. Pence publicly announced that Flynn assured him the subject of sanctions the Obama administration imposed on Russia were not raised in his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak after the election. Authorities who had monitored communications involving foreign diplomats knew that was not the case. The Justice Department warned the White House that Russian officials, aware that Flynn had misled the White House, could have threatened to expose the nature of the communications as a way to gain leverage over Flynn in his sensitive security role. What's more, authorities viewed Flynn's contacts with Russian diplomats as improper while the Obama administration was still in office – and a possible sign the Trump administration may have been trying to roll back sanctions imposed for Russia's campaign of cyberattacks and fake news to influence the election. Flynn was forced out in February.

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Here are the important dates detailing Michael Flynn's relationship with Russia that led to his resignation. USA TODAY NETWORK

In 2015, Flynn earned $33,000 for a now-controversial speech in Moscow. About a year after leaving the military, he spoke to the Kremlin-backed TV network Russia Today – and a photo of him at a related formal dinner seated next to Russian President Vladimir Putin sparked controversy amid the probe into possible collusion between Trump associates and Russia. Flynn’s private business dealings also have drawn investigators’ interest, including $530,000 in earnings from a Dutch firm with ties to the Turkish government, and payment for his 2015 Moscow speech. Flynn had not registered as a foreign agent – a legal requirement – when he accepted money from the Dutch company and only disclosed the payments after registering retroactively after they were exposed by news reporters and investigators.

Status: Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to charges of making false statements to the FBI. Flynn was scheduled to appear at a plea hearing in federal court in Washington Friday.

Latest breaking news: Former national security adviser Mike Flynn charged with lying to FBI

 

George Papadopoulos 

Who is he: A former foreign policy adviser to the Donald Trump campaign, Papadopoulos plead guilty in October to lying to the FBI about his communications with people who represented themselves as tied to the Russian government. A professor linked to the Kremlin, told Papadopoulos that the Russians had "dirt" on then-candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails." Papadopoulos tried repeatedly to set up meetings between the Russian government and Trump campaign officials, with the help of the “professor” and other well-connected Russian contacts, the court filing shows, and suggested he could set up a meeting between Trump and the Russians during a campaign foreign policy advisory meeting attended by President Trump and Attorney General Sessions.

Connection To Trump: The president distanced himself from Papadopoulos after the guilty plea was made public, calling him a "low level volunteer."  Yet Trump touted Papadopoulos as an "excellent guy" on his campaign the foreign policy team in an interview with The Washington Post in March 2016. 

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J.D. Gordon, a campaign advisor to Donald Trump, participated in the March 2016 meeting where George Papadopoulos offered to broker a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Gordon says Trump didn't agree to such a meeting. (Nov. 4) AP

Connections To Russia: The unnamed professor introduced Papadopoulos to other Russians, including a woman whom Papadopoulos described as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s niece and a Russian national connected to that government's ministry of foreign affairs. The court filing says Papadopoulos later learned the Russian woman was not related to Putin.

Status:Pleaded guilty, cooperating with the special counsel investigation and awaiting sentencing in federal court.

More: Ex-Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleads guilty to lying to FBI about Russians

 

Paul Manafort 

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Paul Manafort's lawyers say the agreement would let the former Trump campaign adviser 'mount his defense of this case.' Video provided by Newsy Newslook

Who is he: Manafort resigned as Trump's campaign manager in August 2016 amid reports about his past work for pro-Russian Ukrainian businessmen. The longtime international lobbyist and political consultant has worked for everyone from Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush to Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos. A grand jury empaneled by the special counsel indicted Manafort on charges including money laundering, conspiracy, tax fraud and failure to disclose his lobbying in the U.S. on behalf of foreign governments. Prosecutors have alleged Manafort and a business partner, Rick Gates, worked on behalf of pro-Russia factions in Ukraine, then laundered millions of dollars in profits for movement to the United States to evade taxes. 

Connection To Trump: Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 to help wrangle delegates ahead of the Republican National Convention. Manafort ascended to chairman of the campaign, replacing Corey Lewandowski in June 2016. He also owns a condo in Trump Tower – part of the $12 million in personal assets Manafort's lawyers offered to guarantee he would show up for court appearances.

Connections To Russia: In 2004, Manafort began a decade-long, financially lucrative relationships with Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with close ties to the Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2006, a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine, the Party of Regions, allegedly hired Manafort's lobbying and public relations firm in part to help its candidates win elections. The party's presidential candidate, Victor Yanukovych, was elected president in 2010. He fled to Russia in 2014 after a popular uprising. According to the indictment, Manafort and Gates tried to disguise their work in part by using the European Center for a Modern Ukraine to advocate on behalf of the Ukrainian government. The center, created around 2012, nominally hired two Washington, D.C.-based firms to lobby Congress on sanctions against Ukraine, the validity of the Ukrainian elections and other matters. But Manafort and Gates had arranged the hiring, directed the work, and the center was actually under the control of Yanukovych and the Party of Regions, the indictment alleges. The center ceased to operate after Yanukovych fled Ukraine. As campaign chairman, Manafort also was involved in a meeting during the presidential campaign with a Russian lawyer. That meeting also included Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner and is a subject of scrutiny in the ongoing Russia investigations by Congress and Mueller because the lawyer allegedly approached Trump Jr. offering “dirt” about Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton.

Status: Indicted. Manafort is under house arrest after pleading not guilty to all charges in federal court. Prosecutors estimated in a court filing that if Manafort is found guilty of all charges, sentencing guidelines would call for him to spend 12 to 15 years in prison.

See More: Who is Paul Manafort? More about Trump's indicted former campaign chairman

 

Richard Gates

Who is he: Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates of Richmond, Va., has been referred to as the "right-hand man" of Paul Manafort in an indictment charging both with funneling tens of millions of dollars through foreign firms and accounts while working for pro-Russian factions in Ukraine. Gates is charged with conspiracy, money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent as well as making false statements to investigators in the special counsel investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign. The indictment says Gates used money from the illicit accounts to pay for his mortgage, his children's tuition and interior decorating of his Virginia residence.

Connection To Trump: Gates was a Trump aide during the campaign and post-election transition. Gates worked with Manafort on the Trump campaign beginning in March 2016 and worked with Manafort in fighting for delegates ahead of the GOP convention. When Manafort took over the campaign in June, Gates signed on as his deputy. After Manafort was forced off the campaign in August 2016, Gates remained. He later became a top official organizing Trump's inauguration and then, in January, remained in the Trump orbit by spending several months working at the Trump-related political action group called America First Policies.

Connections To Russia: After joining Manafort's firm Davis Manafort in 2006, Gates worked on deals across Eastern Europe and in Russia. In 2011, the special counsel indictment says Manafort created another firm, DMP International, and Gates became a key player in both companies. The work included multimillion-dollar investments deals with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties to the Kremlin and has been linked to organized crime.

Status: Indicted. Gates has pleaded not guilty and is under house arrest pending the outcome of the case in federal court.

See More: Who is Rick Gates, the man indicted with Paul Manafort?

Contributing: Kevin Johnson, Brad Heath, Fredreka Schouten, Steve Reilly, John Kelly, John Bacon, David Jackson, Kevin McCoy and Gregory Korte.

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