Special Counsel Robert Mueller has returned indictments against 19 people so far. While he’s got a long way to go before breaking Watergate’s record of 69 indictments (nice), Mueller has also nailed more people much faster.
They are a relatively random collection of Trump staffers and Russian trolls, most of whom have never met. But it’s important that we understand who they are, what they did, and how much they’ll mean to the grander case against Trump that Mueller is pursuing.
So I ranked them all in order of importance, and of their role in the Trump/Russia fiasco. Ranking bad people is fun!
19. Vadim Vladimirovich Podkopae – A low-ranking researcher and shitposter at the troll farm. If you were arguing with a broken-English Twitter account, it might have been this guy.
18. Gleb Igorevich Vasilchenko – Another rank and file Internet Research Agency poster who pretended to be American and dumped crap on social media. Meh.
17. Vladimir Venkov – Yet another staff troll at the Internet Research Agency. Apparently, he’s not cool enough to get his middle name used in the indictment.
16. Irina Viktorovna Kaverzina – The Troll Factory staffer whose emails were obtained by Mueller, Kaverzina let it slip that she and her colleagues “had a slight crisis here at work: the FBI busted our activity.” How Mueller has those emails is a complete mystery.
15. Sergey Pavlovich Polozov – the Internet Research Agency’s IT whiz, who apparently went to the US in 2015 to set up Virtual Private Networks to aid in the troll campaign.
14. Anna Vladislavovna Bogacheva – One of two Russians who came to the US to due location scouting for the troll campaign in 2014. She’s not likely to come back too soon.
13. Robert Sergetevich Bovda – Deputy head of the “translator project,” that “focused on the U.S. population and conducted operations on social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter” as the indictment put it. Bovda tried to get into the US for research, but couldn’t get a visa. So at least we got that one right!
12. Maria Anatolyrvna Bovda – Head of the “translator project.” Possibly married to Robert Bovda. She’s his boss, they’re both Russian trolls, and they go on the run. Instant sitcom!
11. Richard Pinedo – This poor bastard got indicted for unwittingly selling stolen bank accounts to Russian cutouts involved in the massive trolling attack on the election. Pinedo likely didn’t know who he was selling stolen material to, and appears to be cooperating fully. His memoir should be a fun read.
10. Aleksandra Yuryevna Krylova – The Internet Research Agency’s third-in-command, Krylova was the other Russian who traveled to the US to scout out the trolling campaign.
9. Dzheykhun Nasimi Ogly Aslanov – A money launderer and troll farm supervisor, this guy was known as “Jay Z” by his employees. He was also known as a bad boss, with one employee describing him to Russian TV as “a really bad manager: not the most competent in this field, well, frankly speaking, generally incompetent.” His rapping skills are unknown.
8. Mikhail Leonidovich Burchik – The second in command of the Internet Research Agency. Another high-ranking Russian infowarrior who could lose out financially due to his indictment.
7. Alex Van Der Zwaan – A totally unknown figure before Mueller indicted him, Dutch lawyer Van Der Zwaan lied to the FBI about his contacts with Rick Gates and Paul Manafort. He’s also married to the daughter of a Russian billionaire who is one of the directors of a massive Russian bank that was mentioned in the Christopher Steele dossier – and one that’s linked to Trump in mysterious ways that nobody has quite explained. So that’s probably important. Stay away from umbrellas, friend!
6. Mikhail Ivanovich Bystrov – The director of the troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency, Bystrov is a bigwig in the information war against the US. He’ll never face an American court room, but the indictment might make his job a pain in the ass for a while.
5. George Papadopolous – The Patient Zero of the Russia investigation, GPap’s drunken boasting to an Australian diplomat kickstarted the FBI’s inquiry into Trump’s relationship with Russia. After lying to investigators about his contacts with a Russian cutout pretending to be Vladimir Putin’s niece, he was indicted by Mueller and pleaded guilty. He had a fairly minor role with the campaign, but is also a guy in a lot of places at a lot of times, so what he’s told Mueller might be outsized.
4. Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin – A Russian oligarch worth billions, this guy spent almost a decade in prison before becoming a restaurateur, and eventually snagged insanely lucrative catering contracts for Putin’s government. It’s likely that he funded much of the trolling campaign against the election, and has already been sanctioned by the US. Being under indictment might hurt any western business interests he has – but he’ll never set foot in a US court.
3. Michael Flynn – Mr. “Lock her up!” is looking at being locked up, but on just one charge: lying to the FBI. Who told him to lie, when Trump knew he lied, and why Trump kept him on for two weeks after he lied to Mike Pence about contacts with the Russians are all massively important to making an obstruction of justice case against Trump.
A few weeks ago, rumors started flying on conservative infotainment sites that Flynn was going to withdraw his guilty plea – but given the shit ton of charges that Paul Manafort is facing, that doesn’t seem super likely. As it stands, Flynn will be sentenced in May, and lord only knows what he’s told Mueller.
2. Rick Gates – Given their close working relationship as Paul Manafort’s deputy, Gates was facing most of the same charges that Manafort was. That was until Mueller’s team cadged a plea deal out of him. Most of the charges were dismissed, with Gates recently pleading guilty to just two felonies – and he seems likely to never see the inside of a jail cell. With four young kids and a career ahead of him, this seemed to be the prudent move. Mueller is even letting Gates go to Boston for spring break!
What he’s got on Manafort (and on Trump, by extension) is yet unknown, but it’s probably a lot. Gates was a key member of the Trump transition team, and stayed on with the campaign even after Manafort was fired, so he’s shaping up to be a major cog in Mueller’s case. It might be enough to get Trump, and it certainly could be enough to nail Manafort. Another one who should stay away from umbrellas.
1. Paul Manafort – Trump’s former campaign manager is looking down the barrel at “five counts of subscribing to false U.S. income tax returns from 2010 to 2014, four counts of failing to file reports of foreign accounts from 2011 to 2014, five counts of bank fraud conspiracy, and four counts of bank fraud,” according to Esquire. He’s also the only American indicted by Mueller to plead not guilty, despite the enormous evidence against him. Did he try to cut a deal, only to be rejected by Mueller? Or is he afraid of getting the poisoned umbrella treatment by any of the many strongmen and dictators he helped prop up if he does plead?
Whatever his reasons, Manafort has a trial scheduled for September 17th – less than two months before the midterms. Pardon ahoy? Or will Trump throw his man underwater and let him take the chance of dying in prison? He’s the biggest name indicted so far, and also has the most to lose. What he does moving forward will be fascinating.
This post will be updated as more indictments come in.