Last night Paul Manafort parted ways with his entire legal team in a chaotic series of events which suggested that they may have actually fired him, and not the other way around (link). But even as that controversy is still unfolding, the focus now shifts to the new legal team which Manafort has hired instead. And, perhaps to the surprise of no one who’s been paying attention, Manafort’s new law firm has ties to Russia.
Manafort has hired the law firm of Miller & Chevalier, which specializes in financial crimes. That makes for a suitable fit, considering that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Manafort’s financial and banking records across the globe. But here’s the kicker: Miller & Chevalier is a member of the US-Russia Business Council, as uncovered by political pundit Scott Dworkin (link). There is nothing inherently suspicious about a company being on that council, as Hewlett Packard and Ford Motor Company are as well. But it does stand out that this particular law firm hired by Manafort just happens to be on the council.
This is far from the first time in which a figure in the Trump-Russia scandal has hired an attorney or law firm with ties to Russia. In fact at one point Donald Trump himself hired a law firm to represent him in the Russia scandal which had recently been named Russia’s law firm of the year. And now Paul Manafort, who has taken tens of millions of dollars from a pro-Kremlin oligarch, and was the chairman of a Trump campaign that is suspected of having colluded with Russian government to rig the election, has hired his own Russia connected law firm to represent him.
At the least, this is not a good look for Paul Manafort. But considering that the FBI just finished raiding his house while he was asleep in it, Manafort may be past the point of caring about appearances. Why he would need a law firm with ties to Russia is another matter.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report