The truth about Trump and the Manafort indictment

Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort for tax fraud on Monday, and the main charge against Donald Trump is poor judgment for hiring the notorious Beltway operator.

The indictment accuses Mr. Manafort (and business partner Richard Gates ) of funneling money from a pro-Russia party in Ukraine into offshore shell companies and bank accounts. They then allegedly used these accounts to fund their spending habits, neglecting to declare the money to the IRS.

The indictment also accuses Mr. Manafort of failing to register as an agent for a foreign government as required under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). This is news mainly because violations of that law haven’t been successfully prosecuted since 1966. The Russia probe has exposed the degree to which lobbyists ignore this statute that the Justice Department has failed to enforce. (Democrat Anthony Podesta announced Monday that he is leaving his lobbying firm amid the Mueller probe. He is the brother of John Podesta, who ran Hillary Clinton’s campaign.)

The most striking news is that none of this involves the 2016 election campaign. The indictment makes clear that Mr. Manafort’s work for Ukraine and his money transfers ended in 2014. The 2016 charges are related to false statements Mr. Manafort made to the Justice Department.

Keep reading this editorial in the Wall Street Journal.