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Marquette's Paul Nolette says initial indictments could quicken pace of special investigation into Russian collusion

The former chairman of Donald Trump's Presidential campaign pleaded not guilty to several federal charges Monday including conspiracy against the United States.

They are the first indictments in the investigation into Russian collusion from Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.

"This signals the next step in investigation," says Marquette University Political Science Professor Paul Nolette. "It's been going under the radar over the last few months. Now, we're starting to see some of that payoff."

Nolette says the indictment was very strong about money laundering and not disclosing lobbying and payments while an agent of the Ukrainian government.

It threatens Manafort with serious jail time and forfeiture of property.

"I think part of this was to try and put pressure on Manafort and others to get them to talk about what else they might know about connections to Russia."

To be clear, there was no mention of Russia in general or election collusion in Monday's indictments against Manafort and former business partner Rick Gates.

"It's all part of the big picture that the special prosecutor is investigating and could be threads leading to Russiam" Nolette told the CBS 58 News at 4. "What is happening here is typical for prosecutions. Unusual because it deals with a presidential election, but the technique has long been used by prosecutors."

While this could potentially drag on into another election season, Nolette says that "things could  escalate quicker if a number of people start talking and gives Mueller more chance to bring potential indictments and guilty pleas and get closer to what really happened."


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