Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues to use his court filings in the Paul Manafort case to send signals about who else he’s targeting in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal. Mueller just filed the paperwork for Manafort’s arraignment, scheduled for Friday, which will all but certainly result in Manafort being taken straight to prison. The key detail in the filing is centered around Manafort’s alleged collusion with certain congressional committee chairman.
Robert Mueller’s filing spells out that back when Paul Manafort was still working for Kremlin puppet Viktor Yanukovich in Ukraine, Manafort tried to influence “every member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee.” It then goes on to assert that “the Chairman of [a Congressional Committee]” was coordinating with the Hapsburg group on Ukraine. Mueller is investigating the Hapsburg group for its role in the Trump-Russia scandal. So what does this tell us?
What stands out the most is that the specific committee in question is redacted, a move intentionally made in order to conceal the identity of the committee Chairman in question. Mueller had just gotten done mentioning the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee without redaction when he turned around and redacted the name of the Chairman’s committee, so unless this was an oversight, it appears that the committee in question is not one of the two named. There are some external clues that help narrow down the Chairman’s identity.
Paul Manafort has spent decades working closely with the Republican Party, so while he’s accused of having tried to lobby members of Congress in both parties, it’s essentially a given the Chairman who was allegedly working with him was a Republican. Yanukovich was ousted from power in February of 2014, back when the Senate was still under Democratic Party control, and thus all of the Senate Chair positions were held by Democrats. This means the committee in question must have been in the House, which the Republicans controlled at the time.
So we’re looking at a Republican who was the Chairman of a House committee in early 2014, and it was most likely not the House Foreign Affairs Committee. For those wondering, Trump-Russia co-conspirator Devin Nunes didn’t become the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee until 2015, so he doesn’t appear to fit the profile. Again, the key here is that Robert Mueller chose to redact the committee name in order to conceal the Chairman’s identity. This strongly suggests that the Chairman is either also under criminal investigation, or has already cut some kind of deal.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report