Manafort Indictment and More: What They Mean

Paul Manafort indicted by Special Counsel Mueller

The charges against Manafort and his business associate are that they should have registered as foreign agents for a pro-Russian Ukrainian entity, for which he did work until 2015.

Those dates are well before he worked for the Trump Campaign, and the indictment itself has nothing to do with the 2016 Presidential Campaign.

Comments: If Manafort has any information to implicate Trump or Trump associates, the Special Counsel now has leverage to acquire it.

Second, even if Manafort’s indictment had nothing to do with Democrats’ allegations of “Trump’s Russian collusion,” it is never good when your campaign manager is swept up in such indictments. At the very least, it suggests the Trump Campaign hired him without knowing about these connections.

Third, the indictments show the long-term efforts of the Kremlin and its allies, such as those in Ukraine, to insinuate themselves in the American political process.

Fourth, if other lobbying firms did this kind of work for foreign entities–and I’m sure some well-connected firms did–they must read this indictment with a shudder.

Low-level figure in Trump campaign, George Papadopoulos, pleads guilty to making false statement about Russian contacts

The contacts yielded nothing and the Trump campaign wasn’t interested in what he had to offer.

As CNN describes (and then spins) it:

Papadopoulos “falsely described his interactions with a certain foreign contact who discussed ‘dirt’ related to emails” concerning Hillary Clinton. Records also describe an email between Trump campaign officials suggesting they were considering acting on Russian invitations to go to Russia.

Comment: The last sentence is mostly spin. The actual response was that the Trump campaign was not interested in what Papadopoulos was pushing to them.

Comment #2: The White House notes that Papadopoulos was a volunteer with little activity and later said that the Mueller information about Papadopoulos was provided by the White House itself.

Comment #3: This guilty plea came several weeks ago. Why did Mueller’s office wait to release the information? The most plausible explanation (to me) is that they wanted to show that the Manafort, which is unrelated to Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign (so far as we know), was accompanied by investigations that did involve the campaign.

Tony Podesta, influential Democratic lobbyist and brother of Hillary’s campaign chair, stepping down from his firm amid Mueller probe (Politico)

The investigation into Podesta and his firm grew out of investigators’ examination of Manafort’s finances. Manafort organized a PR campaign on behalf of a nonprofit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. Podesta Group was one of several firms that were paid to do work on the PR campaign to promote Ukraine in the U.S.

Podesta Group filed paperwork with the Justice Department in April stating that it had done work for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine that also benefited the same Ukrainian political party that Manafort once advised. Podesta Group said at the time it believed its client was a European think tank untethered to a political party. –Politico

Comment: The sleazy connections between Democratic and Republican insiders with lobbying firms is exactly why Americans think Washington is a swamp.

 

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