Ex-US Attorneys react to Manafort & Gates indictment

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A couple of former U.S. Attorneys weigh in on Manafort and Gates indictments. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A couple of former U.S. Attorneys weigh in on Manafort and Gates indictments. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Mel McDonald didn't think the indictments hurt the Trump administration that much. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Mel McDonald didn't think the indictments hurt the Trump administration that much. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Charlton said he knows the independent counsel, Robert Mueller, from his days in Washington and expects more legal bombs to drop on the Trump campaign. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Charlton said he knows the independent counsel, Robert Mueller, from his days in Washington and expects more legal bombs to drop on the Trump campaign. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates pleaded not guilty to federal charges including conspiracy against the United States. (Source: CNN) President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates pleaded not guilty to federal charges including conspiracy against the United States. (Source: CNN)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The first indictments from the investigation into the Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election came down on Monday and two former U.S. Attorneys for Arizona have reacted to it.

President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates pleaded not guilty to federal charges including conspiracy against the United States. They're accused of hiding work as an agent of the Ukranian government and for covering up millions of dollars in off-shore accounts.

[READ MORE: Manafort and Gates face decades in prison, millions in fines]

Mel McDonald and Paul Charlton, both Republicans, disagreed about the legal significance of the Manafort and Gates indictments, as it relates to the Russian investigation.

"On a one-to-10 scale, as far as damaging the Trump campaign, I would give this a one," said McDonald. "There's nothing in these charges that suggest a link between the Russians and the election."

But a third Trump campaign official involved in Monday's legal drama may prove to be a bigger problem for the White House right now.

"What is more significant is the charge against brought against an individual named George Papadopoulos," said Charlton. "He has cooperated, he has indicated that he is working with the Russians in an attempt to bring damaging information about Hillary Clinton to the Trump campaign."

Charlton said he knows the independent counsel, Robert Mueller, from his days in Washington and expects more legal bombs to drop on the Trump campaign.

"Mr. Papadopoulos has already provided information that the Mueller team is going to find useful and there'll be other charges almost certainly," said Charlton.

He added the indictments of Manafort and Gates were a significant development that Mueller and his team will use to put "the screws" to them to get them to cooperate.

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