Thirty-six hours after the arrest of Paul Manafort, the courts have unsealed additional documents surrounding his indictment and arrest. Those documents include stunning details about the extent and nature of Manafort’s financial connections. In particular, he was so closely linked to the Kremlin financially, he appears to have had joint bank accounts with the Russian spy who wielded significant control over the Donald Trump campaign.
The court documents in question reveal that Manafort has a “Russian national” as a signatory on his bank accounts. During her MSNBC show on Tuesday night, Rachel Maddow pieced together that the Russian national in question is Konstantin Kilimnik, who is widely believed to be a former Russian GRU agent, and thus still a de facto Russian government spy. Kilimnik has previously bragged that he got the Trump campaign to change the Republican Party platform to favor Russia (link). The Manafort indictment now gives us a much better understanding of how Kilimnik was able to wield that kind of control over the Trump campaign.
There are only a very small number of reasons that would explain why Paul Manafort would have had a Russian spy as a signatory on his bank accounts. The most likely would be that Manafort was so financially beholden to Russia, the Kremlin forced him to add Kilimnik to his bank accounts so that it could seize his money if he ever fell out of line. This would suggest that Manafort would have done just about anything Vladimir Putin wanted him to do. Now comes the essential question: why did Trump go along with the pro-Kremlin moves that Manafort was making?
One explanation is that Donald Trump was too aloof or senile to care what Paul Manafort was doing with the campaign, and he passively went along with every pro-Kremlin move Manafort wanted to make. Another explanation would be that Trump went along with it because he’s also financially beholden to the Kremlin. Will Robert Mueller’s investigation into Manafort’s finances expose a parallel money pipeline from the Kremlin to Trump?
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report