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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.


President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort surrendered to the FBI on Monday to face federal conspiracy charges, dealing another damaging blow to a White House engulfed by legislative dysfunction and falling poll numbers.

Manafort, a veteran Republican political operative, played a key role in Trump’s rise to power. He served as middleman between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in 2015 and 2016. The charges against him and a business partner, Rick Gates, bring allegations of criminal activity into Trump’s inner circle for the first time.

The 12-count indictment, which includes conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money and making false statements, enhances special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s reputation for “shock and awe” tactics.

The charges strengthen the notion that Trump collaborated with Russia to gain the presidency and gives the lie to Trump’s claim that the Russa investigation is a “hoax.” More than any other person who could have been indicted, Manafort can testify about Trump’s Russia connections.

Manafort’s Style

Since the 1980s, Manafort has amassed a fortune by representing dictators and human rights abusers shunned by other Washington political consultants. An NBC News investigation found Manafort had done $60 million worth of business with Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin over the past decade, according to financial documents filed in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands.

Manafort joined Trump’s campaign at a formative moment in the spring of 2016 as Trump vanquished his Republican rivals and turned his attention to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. He became Trump’s chief strategist and a channel that Trump and his entourage used to communicate with, and possibly coordinate with President Vladimir Putin.

When a Russian attorney approached the Trump campaign in June 2016 with an offer of dirt on Clinton, the meeting was held in Manafort’s office. The purpose of the meeting, according to an email made public by Donald Trump Jr., was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,”

When the meeting was first reported in June 2017, Trump dictated a misleading statement for his son which falsely asserted that the meeting concerned a Russian law barring Americans from adopting Russian orphans.

Under Pressure

The charges against Manafort concern alleged tax fraud and money laundering, not any actions related to the 2016 campaign, but they will increase pressure on Manafort to become a witness against his former boss. Mueller is known to be investigating the June 2016 meeting as part of a possible obstruction of justice case.

Manafort has much to explain. In July 2016, while serving as campaign manager, he offered to give a private briefing on the campaign to Deripaska.

“If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” Manafort wrote in the July 7, 2016 email, portions of which were read to the Washington Post along with other Manafort correspondence from that time.

Deripaska, listed as the ninth-richest man in the world in 2008, had a net worth of $28 billion, and a penchant for renting the attention of high-profile Western politicians, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Trump fired Manafort in August after reports that he had received more than $12 million in undisclosed payments from Viktor F. Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president and a pro-Russia politician. But Rick Gates, his business partner and protégé, continued to play a role, according to the Post. Gates directed the inauguration plans, including fundraising, under Thomas Barrack, Trump’s close friend and adviser.

So far Manafort has not been cooperating with investigators. FBI agents working for Mueller raided Manafort’s home in Alexandria in late July, armed with a search warrant that allowed them to enter at dawn without warning the occupants. Such an invasive search is only allowed after prosecutors have persuaded a federal judge that they have evidence of a crime and reasonable concern that key evidence could be destroyed or withheld.

Now facing a criminal trial that might result in a long prison term, Manafort must choose between his loyalty to Trump and his own self-interest. The evidence has culminated in charges of criminal activity in the entourage of the president of the United States.

Jefferson Morley is AlterNet’s Washington correspondent. He is the author of the forthcoming biography The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (St. Martin’s Press, October 2017) and Snow-Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835.


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2 responses to “Why Paul Manafort Is Going To Be Under Immense Pressure To Testify Against The President”

  1. Dominick Vila says:

    Manafort knows that Trump will not pardon him if The Donald concludes that it is in his best interest to let Manafort go to jail. Trump demands unconditional loyalty, but has demonstrated that he will not hesitate to lash out against anyone who expresses the slightest criticism against him or who becomes a liability to him. Moreover, Manafort knows that his record is public knowledge, and that Mueller has enough evidence against him to put him in jail for conspiracy against the USA, money laundering, and tax evasion, among other crimes. The best he can hope is that by cooperating with the special counsel some of the charges against him may be dropped, leading to him serving less time in a maximum security prison. The same goes for Gates. Another nail in their coffin is the fact that Pappadopoulos already pleaded guilty to all charges against him.

  2. Lord have mercy. Trump has the nerve to think anyone other than his base of mindless myrmidons will take his word for anything.

    Obviously, Trump never took the time to listen to the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”—neither did Putin, Sarah Huckabee, Spicer, etc. When you have established a pattern of systematic lying or purposefully obscuring the real issues, like these individuals, no one in their right mind will ever believe you, or take seriously anything you have to say.

    Manafort is another such person who not only learned to lie with ease, but specialized in amassing large sums of money by taking advantage of political corruption for personal gain. And so many other tales of lying and deceit are yet to be brought to light in relation Trump’s Traveling Circus of Liars and Crooks.

    “I Am Not A Crook”—Richard Milhouse Nixon.

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