Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is feeling the pressure of special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation into the corruption between American politicians and Russian oligarchs and government officials.
On Monday, The New York Times reports that Manafort, along with longtime business associate Rick Gates, officially turned themselves over to investigators after an indictment was processed under seal this Friday.
CNN reports the two have been charged on twelve counts which include: “Conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, false and misleading statements, and seven counts of failure to produce financial documents.”
The Press Release from the Special Council:
“Paul J. Manafort, Jr., 68, of Alexandria, Va., and Richard W. Gates III, 45, of Richmond, Va., have been indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 27, 2017, in the District of Columbia. The indictment contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.”
In July of last year, Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia home was raided by armed FBI officials. It was there that the team seized both financial and tax documents which were later given to Mueller’s congressional investigators.
The Associated Press then went on to report on the financial relationship between Manafort and aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska. The billionaire allegedly is a close Putin ally, and the two eventually signed a $10 million annual contract in 2006.
Other allegations from Vanity Fair discuss the dealings of Manafort’s firm and “pro-Russian party in Ukraine,” the Party of Regions led by former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich, which resulted in an illegal payment of supposedly $12.7 million. Manafort, of course, denied this and even claimed the documents were forged.
Even to the biggest of Russian-collusion skeptics, which includes myself, nobody has denied the possibility of financial crimes between the current President, his campaign and rich people (who just so happen to be Russian or in Putin’s government). Shady oligarchs, who would rather not release their tax returns, engage in soft and hard money all the time, whether their last name is Clinton or Trump.
It’s the new norm of a broken pay-to-play system, which Mueller seems more concerned about busting rather than the partisan, unfounded allegations of “hacking the election.”
But it’s this kind of bad PR and possible conflict of interests that led to the administration distancing themselves from Manafort, who left the campaign under Donald Trump’s orders.
“Obviously, there’s been discussion of Paul Manafort, who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time,” former White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed back in March, only serving on the campaign between June to August of 2016.
"Nobody should underestimate how much Paul Manafort did to get this campaign to where it is right now” Newt Gingrich pic.twitter.com/kbbFkyBNAi— Scott Dworkin (@funder) October 30, 2017
A statement which runs contradictory to the cries of Newt Gingrich, one of the choices for VP in the Trump administration: “Nobody should underestimate how much Paul Manafort did to get this campaign to where it is right now.”
Either that’s a quote not aging well, or it’s a braggadocious lie.
The whole affair enlightens us on why a Trump presidency would have a potential conflict of interest in the office, but doesn’t prove the Clinton narrative of the Trump administration “colluding” with Russia to “meddle” in the election itself.
CNN debunked the notion of “Russian hacked voting machines,” The Nation debunked the claims the DNC “hack” was even a hack at all, but rather a leak, and here on TrigTent we’ve explained the misreporting on the “Kremlin-linked Facebook ads.”
The election narrative has moved from goal post to goal post. All Mueller and the Clinton wing seem to be crazy about is regular corruption that is as legitimate a concern under Trump as it would have been under Clinton.
With Mueller, who may indict more individuals, including the Russia-linked Tony Podesta, at least the (D) and (R) beside your name doesn’t appear to matter if you’ve taken the law for granted.