We may now have the answer as to why Donald Trump and his White House tried to distance themselves from Trump’s campaign chair Paul Manafort yesterday. Manafort ran the campaign of Russian puppet Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine, and has long been alleged to have illegally taken millions in Kremlin cash for it. But now Manafort’s signature has been discovered on Russian money laundering paperwork, all but proving his guilt – and it sets him up to flip on Trump.
The new revelation, released by the government of Ukraine and first published reported on by the New York Times, helps to confirm that Paul Manafort was indeed illegally on the take from Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin. In fact, unless he can demonstrate that his signature on the newly uncovered paperwork was somehow forged to frame him, he’s essentially finished. Immediately after FBI Director James Comey and and members of the House Intelligence Committee briefly discussed Manafort during public hearings yesterday, Trump sent his spokesman Sean Spicer to the podium to try to minimize the role that Manafort played in the Trump campaign, but that effort was largely laughed off.
I took that development as a sign that that as Trump was watching the hearings, something that was said about Paul Manafort made clear to him that the FBI had Manafort nailed. And so Trump tried to claim that Manafort had only had a brief and small role in the campaign, in the hope of insulating himself. Of course Manafort was Trump’s campaign chairman for much of the election cycle, meaning he was in charge of the campaign. So there’s no minimizing the ties between the two of them.
But now that we know how thoroughly screwed Paul Manafort is, it suggests that he’ll end up having to flip on Donald Trump in exchange for leniency considerations. It’s nearly a given that the FBI already knew about Manafort’s money laundering and has been privately pursuing him over it. Ukraine publicly released the evidence today (New York Times), in a seeming attempt at ratcheting up the pressure on the heels of the House hearings. No wonder Trump unsuccessfully tried to throw Manafort under the bus yesterday. Contribute to Palmer Report
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report