JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - It was a well-coordinated operation, a one-two punch aimed at sending terror to the heart of Washington.
As the first salvo, on Monday independent counsel Robert Mueller moved against two former aides of United States President Donald Trump, his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates.
Both were accused of hiding millions of dollars collected from work with Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Moscow political party.
These charges were widely expected given Manafort's reputation as a Republican Party lobbyist who has close ties to Russia and other despots in many parts of the world. And as predicted, Trump could easily distance himself from the accusation. Trump took to Twitter on Monday claiming that the move was not a direct attack on him.
But it was difficult for Trump to deflect the second punch from Muller.
Soon after, the release of the indictment of Manafort and Gates, Muller's team released a bombshell statement saying that foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign George Papadopoulos admitted to making false statements during an interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Papadopoulos lied regarding the nature of his ties with Russian sources who promised to give him damaging information on Trump's rival in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton.
It is difficult not to overstate the importance of the latest development in US politics. The three indictments shows that special counsel Muller could go either way in pursuing both the possible financial ties between Trump and Russia and/or how Russian political operatives helped deliver victory to Trump in 2016.
Never since the Watergate scandal has a sitting US president been in a more perilous position.
In the past 10 months, Trump has been huffing and puffing, maintaining that none of the members in his campaign team had worked with the Russians and that his victory in the 2016 election was legitimate.
But now with the charges against the three men, it is difficult for him to back up the claim.
Even if Trump was a popular president with high approval ratings, it would be very difficult to deal with what's been thrown at him by the special counsel.
Currently, Trump's approval ratings are in the low thirties and after 10 months in office he has scored no major achievements. The worst is yet to come for Trump, and the world is anxiously watching.
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