The Troubling Case of Paul Manafort
Paul Manafort is a lobbyest. In some more honest moments Manafort will admit that "influence peddler" is, at least, a somewhat apt description of what he does. He is currently the chairman of Donald Trump's imploding presidential campaign. This week the New York Times published a story about Manafort that can only be damaging to the Trump campaign mired as it is in links to Putin's Moscow.
In the Times article Manafort's name appeared, along with names of companies he sought business with, in a secret ledger used by the ousted President Victor Yanokovych. If the handwritten ledger is to be believed, Manafort received 12.7 million dollars in undisclosed cash payments between 2007-2012. The special investigators trying to untangle the web of corruption that characterized Yanukovych's Putin friendly, administration are quick to point out that the ledger doesn't constitute direct evidence that Manafort actually received these payments. Unsurprisingly, Manafort denies ever receiving off the books cash payments. For me though, the cash payments are the very least of my concerns. That Yanokovych would be corrupt and make illegal payments to people whom he wanted to influence, or have influence others is hardly surprising. Corrupt folks do corrupt things. Interestingly, Manafort's shady business in the Ukraine was why McCain chose not to hire him in 2008.
Whether Manafort received unreported cash or not, the story produces some more troubling links to Putin's Russia as well as a willingness on the part of people of power and influence close to Trump, and whose opinions Trump values, to be deal with some awful, awful people. Manafort and his firm have represented some reprehensible people and regimes over the years. Prior to his firm's work advising Yanokovyvh and helping him win election, Manafort and his firm also represented Philippine dictator, and all around piece of shit Ferdinand Marcos. But representing less than savory characters, and trying to win influence for them is a big part of what Manafort does. This is part of the problem of course.
But Manafort's close association with Putin friendly oligarchs and presidents coupled with his association with Trump cast many of Trumps own pro-Putin, pro-Russia comments in a harsher light. Trump's financial ties to Russia are significant in their own right. What conclusions can we draw from Manafort's close ties Russia with the fact that the Trump campaign forced the GOP to soften its platform on the annexation of Crimea? Or onn Trump's less than supportive ideas about NATO? What of the growing consensus that Russia hacked the DNC to benefit Donald Trump? We probably can't say anything too concrete, but surely Trump's associations must fail to inspire confidence.
It may be premature to suggest this but I suspect a Trump administration might ape the Yanokovych Administration. State coffers would be raided, and funneled into private hands, and those hands are likely to be Russian ones.