Now that the U.S. intelligence community has outed four of Donald Trump’s top campaign advisors for having colluded with Russian intelligence officers during the campaign, one of them is already firing back with a defense so absurd that it all but confirms his guilt. Paul Manafort, who had been Trump’s second campaign manager before being caught up in the Russia scandal, has now invented what may end up becoming known as the “name badge defense.”
Paul Manafort was exposed as having been caught colluding with Russian intel officers by the FBI, along with three other top Trump advisors. Roger Stone, Carter Page, and the recently resigned Michael Flynn were also fingered. When the New York Times received the leak from the U.S. intel community, it reached out to Manafort for comment. His response: “I have no idea what this is referring to. I have never knowingly spoken to Russian intelligence officers.” The key word there of course is “knowingly,” which is not a denial. But then he made it worse.
Manafort went on to explain that “It’s not like these people wear badges that say, ‘I’m a Russian intelligence officer.'” So that appears to be the defense that Manafort is going with, tacitly acknowledging that he spoke with the Russian intel officers in question, but positing that he didn’t know he was doing so at the time. This absurd defense essentially confirms the claims that the New York Times is reporting. Now that we know Manafort is guilty, will he be the first to cut a deal to take Trump down?