If you take the time to read the latest criminal charges filed against Paul Manafort, you’ll be in for a morbid laugh. Not only did Manafort and Rick Gates cook their own books in the hope of impressing potential lenders, they were brazen enough to put conversations in writing about how they were cooking the books. It’s just the latest revelation that raises the ongoing question of why Donald Trump’s goons thought they were going to get away with all these crimes. I think there are two valid answers.
The first answer is that these people have been getting away with these kinds of things for a long, long time. Manafort and Gates, despite being two of the more successful political operatives of their generation, were far enough under the surface that no one had ever heard of them. No one sitting at home knew Manafort’s name until he took over the Trump campaign. Almost no one knew Gates’ name until the day he was arrested. Their decades of shady operations weren’t being scrutinized, until they made the mistake of attaching their names to a major presidential campaign. That brings us to the second answer.
We still don’t know if Donald Trump thought he’d win, or was told by the Russians that it was being rigged for him, or if he thought he’d lose, or if his broken mind even understands what’s going on. But it’s fairly clear that almost no one working for the Trump campaign thought they were going to win. They figured that once Trump lost, this historically embarrassing campaign would be forgotten, and they could each slither back into the cesspools from which they came. Maybe they would have been right about that and maybe not, but it’s understandable how they would have come to believe that as long as Trump lost, no one would ever go back and scrutinize any of the people who ran his campaign into the ground.
So it’s not difficult in that sense to understand why Rick Gates and Paul Manafort were sloppy enough to communicate in writing about the technical details of how they were fraudulently altering their financial records. It’s not difficult to grasp why Michael Flynn kept calling the Russian Ambassador on a traceable phone. It’s not difficult to figure out why no one did much to cover their tracks while plotting with Russia. But because Trump “won” the election, they’re all going to pay the price – including Trump himself.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report