Just as Paul Manafort’s former longtime business partner Rick Gates is preparing to plead guilty and testify against him, Manafort is getting even more bad news. Millions of dollars in additional suspicious Manafort transactions have just been uncovered, which go beyond the financial crimes that he was originally indicted for. But forget about all that, because at this point he’s either going to cut a plea deal against Trump or die in prison. What we want to know is just what he was doing at the Duane Reade drug store to rack up all these suspicious transactions.
If you’re not familiar with Duane Reade, it’s a drug store chain in New York City. There’s one on every other corner. It’s now owned by Walgreens. It’s also apparently a place that Paul Manafort likes shopping at very much, because here’s the final line of the of the new BuzzFeed piece which exposes Manafort’s suspicious financial transactions: “Wachovia officials also flagged $25,000 in “fraudulent charges” at Duane Reade stores in New York City in September 2007. Bank officials said the debit card was in Manafort’s possession during that time.”
That doesn’t sound like Manafort’s debit card was stolen. It sounds like Manafort was running some kind of comparatively small-time fraud scheme at the local drug store. Is it possible that, in addition to the millions of dollars he was smuggling in and out Puerto Rico and and Cyprus and Russia, he was also running down to Duane Reade every night for a month and buying a bunch of small-time stuff with a fake debit card? How do you launder money by buying Doritos and shampoo?
It’s worth asking whether or not it’s a coincidence that the media was able to uncover this new evidence about Paul Manafort just a day after Rick Gates formally agreed to testify against Manafort. Is it possible that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is leaving breadcrumbs for the media to find, so Manafort will realize how screwed he is? In any case, the Duane Reade aspect of this story is so weird that the name of the store was trending on Twitter overnight. Just what was Paul Manafort doing at his local drug store?
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report