Manafort is an agent of Russia. He has served Kremlin since at least 2003 and performed work for criminals, former KGB associates, oligarchs in several countries on behalf of Kremlin. It’s really not complicated why he lied! Just like it’s not complicated why Trump serves Putin
Trump knows Manafort since 1980. Manafort lived in Trump Tower since 2006. Trump knew exactly why Manafort is the guy to help carry out the attack on America. Better question is why Manafort’s foreign activities of working for Putin to destroy Ukraine weren’t being monitored
One little thing I noticed from the latest ABJ transcript. The judge notes that a lot of Manafort’s lies have a nexus to Konstantin Kilimnik, rather than being random. In the process, she appears to disclose that the dispute about the $125,000 payment is related to Kilimnik too.
And the $125,000 payment matter also apparently relates to funds flowing to Manafort from “vendors associated with the campaign”
Paul Manafort is keeping one big secret — and that’s a ticket out of jail for both him and Donald Trump
Lucian K. Truscott IV / SalonFebruary 16, 2019
One thing you have to remember about these guys: it’s always worse than you think it is. So it goes with Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman, current resident of the solitary confinement wing of a cellblock in a federal lock-up in Washington, D.C.
As Manafort stews behind bars, pundits have spent all week wondering why he would make the seemingly insane move of lying to Mueller’s investigators after he had signed an agreement to cooperate with them “fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly” concerning what he knew about the Trump campaign’s contacts with the Russian government. If you look back with me for a moment at what we have learned about Manafort over the last three years, maybe it’s not such a mystery at all.
Right from the start, Manafort was a dirty political rat-fucker and fixer in Republican politics. After working on a couple of campaigns, he started a political consulting business with his scuzzy compatriots, Roger Stone and Lee Atwater. He went on to virtually invent the now lucrative practice of lobbying for right-wing foreign dictators and murderers like Angolan dictator Jonas Savimbi and dictator of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, among others. In 2004, he went to work in the Ukraine for right-wing Putin-puppet Viktor Yanukovych, where he made friends with many of Yanukovych’s Russian oligarch patrons.
During Manafort’s trial on charges of money laundering and tax evasion, prosecutors produced evidence that between 2010 and 2014, Manafort was paid more than $60 million by Russia-friendly Ukrainian sponsors, including Rinat Akhmetov, the richest man in Ukraine.
But after Yanukovych was deposed by a popular uprising in 2014, Manafort was out of work and scrambling around looking for work in the United States. He found a political life-raft in the campaign of Donald Trump. In March of 2016, he was hired as a consultant on Trump’s campaign. By May Trump had vanquished his primary opponents and was on his way to the nomination, Manafort was promoted to campaign chairman and charged with wrangling delegates at the Republican National Convention. He remained as Trump’s campaign chairman until August, when he was ousted following revelations of his receiving cash payoffs from Russia-friendly figures in the Ukraine during his time working for Yanukovych.
What you find in the career of Paul Manafort then is a peculiar, pungent mix of all the distasteful elements in the contemporary Republican Party. He had real political skills; he was a master fixer and image doctor; and over the years, he developed a big-time love of big bucks. Keep this in mind as we move forward.
What we knew of Manafort from the public record, however, had very little relation to what was really going on behind the scenes of the Trump campaign. After the revelations of his indictments by Mueller and the Eastern District of Virginia, and especially after this week’s order by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C., we know far more about what Manafort was up to on the Trump campaign.
Manafort was put in control of the Republican National Convention to insure that the anti-Russia plank critical of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and seizure of Crimea was taken out of the Republican platform. Back in New York, he wasn’t sitting around Trump Tower making calls to Republican county chairmen. No, he was busy attending the infamous meeting on June 9 at the Trump campaign headquarters with Jared Kushner and Don Jr. when the three of them met with six Russians with ties to Kremlin intelligence agencies.
As we now know from Judge Jackson’s order, Manafort was also meeting with his main Russian contact in the “Havana Room,” a cigar bar conveniently located in a building owned by the Kushner family at 666 Fifth Avenue. The Russian contact was Konstantin Kilimnik, a man with whom Manafort had partnered in the Ukraine when he worked for Yanukovych. Kilimnik had ties to Russian intelligence and was close to Oleg Deripaska, a prominent Russian oligarch and friend of Putin, with whom Manafort had a $10 million contract to promote his interests in the United States and elsewhere. A witness as his trial in Washington D.C. testified that Deripaska had loaned Manafort another $10 million, which he had never repaid.
What did Manafort do as soon as he moved into his offices in the Trump campaign in Trump Tower in the spring of 2016? Why, he sent a message to his Russian pal Kilimnik, who was now living in Moscow and working for Deripaska, asking what they could do together to “get whole” with Deripaska now that he was working for Trump.
Mueller’s prosecutors appeared before Judge Jackson seeking to prove that Manafort had lied to them after he had copped a plea on the second set of federal charges he was facing. The judge found that one of the major things Manafort had lied about was his meeting with Kilimnik in the “Havana Room,” where he was alleged to have passed polling data from the Trump campaign to his Russian contact. Prosecutors apparently knew Manafort had lied to them because his partner Rick Gates was at the meeting with Kilimnik, and he had been truthful when told them what had transpired between Manafort and Kilimnik.
To give you an idea of how seriously Mueller’s investigators took Manafort’s contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, one of his prosecutors told Judge Jackson that his contacts with the Russian went “very much to the heart of” the Special Counsel’s broader mandate to investigate Russian influence in the Trump campaign during 2016.
Now we have to ask ourselves, why would Donald Trump’s campaign chairman be passing political polling data to a known Russian intelligence operative during the campaign? Well, the obvious answer is that Donald Trump knew exactly what he was doing when he hired Paul Manafort as his campaign chairman. He knew he was getting a guy who had the political skills to fix the anti-Russian plank in the Republican platform at the convention, and he knew that Manafort had extensive contacts with Ukrainian and Russian intelligence that went back more than a decade, and that Manafort could tap those contacts and pass information back and forth between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
The other thing to notice when you look back at the service Manafort provided to the Trump campaign is the timing of his involvement. He went to work on the campaign during the time Russian GRU intelligence agents were hacking the servers of the Democratic Party and stealing their emails and political secrets. He met with Russian intelligence operatives in Trump Tower in advance of the Russians releasing those stolen emails, and he was running the campaign when the Russians began leaking the emails via WikiLeaks. He was there throughout the convention when Trump got the nomination for president on the Republican ticket, and he wasn’t ousted until Trump was well on his way as a candidate who was on the stump day after day talking about how much “I love WikiLeaks” and taking advantage of the Russian hacking.
The key figure who apparently tipped off Muller’s prosecutors that Manafort was lying to them during his agreement to cooperate was his former partner, Rick Gates. He was the deputy campaign chairman under Manafort and remained with the campaign after Manafort left. He was in constant contact with Manafort during the campaign and was present for the meeting with Kilimnik at the “Havana Room.”
But Gates clearly wasn’t inside the room every time Manafort as campaign chairman met with candidate Trump. That’s the big secret Manafort is keeping for Trump. The only two men who know what transpired between campaign chairman and candidate during the campaign are Manafort and Trump. Manafort was Trump’s cut-out to Putin’s intelligence operatives who were hacking the Democrats’ emails and releasing them through WikiLeaks. They obviously used the campaign polling data Manafort passed to Kilimnik in determining when to release information damaging to Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman, John Podesta. Only Manafort knows what instructions Trump gave him when he was dealing with the Russians during the campaign, and so far, he is keeping this very, very big secret.
Most pundits think Manafort is counting on a pardon from Trump before he is impeached or leaves office by losing the election of 2020. Trump can certainly do this. He has a real interest in keeping Manafort’s mouth shut because Trump has created the fiction that he beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 fair and square without the help of the Russian government, and he’s not going to easily let this fiction be credibly challenged. It would be too much of a blow to his ego, even after he has left office. Manafort could blow up Trump’s lies about the 2016 campaign. Trump will do anything to keep him quiet. Dangling a pardon insured Manafort would lie to Mueller even under a plea agreement.
A pardon might not be enough to insure Manafort’s loyalty over the long term, but money will. Remember the revelations during his trial about the millions he laundered through banks in Cyprus and how he spent it? Six hundred grand for landscaping his house in Bridgehampton! Five hundred grand for fancy suits from men’s clothing stores! Hundreds of thousands on Persian rugs! He owned houses in the Hamptons, Florida, Brooklyn, and a condo in Trump Tower!
Manafort isn’t sitting there in jail in Washington D.C. just waiting on a pardon. He still faces heavy fines for tax evasion. Nearly every asset he ever owned has been seized. He’s not going to walk out of jail with a pardon and move into a walk-up in Queens. The other party to Trump’s fiction about how he beat Hillary is the Russians, and they don’t want the truth to come out any more than Trump does. Whoever beats Trump in 2020 (if he’s still around to beat) will double or triple sanctions on Russia if the secrets behind Russia’s involvement in Trump’s campaign are ever told. Somebody over there loyal to Putin — Deripaska or Akhmetov or another oligarch — has made promises to Manafort to “make him whole” financially.
Trump will pay off Manafort for his silence with a pardon, and the Russians will pay him off with millions of dollars. That’s why Paul Manafort is sitting in jail in Washington D.C. lying to Robert Mueller’s investigators. He’s always been a dirty-trickster and a fixer, and just because he’s wearing an orange jumpsuit and going gray in the absence of his bottle of black hair dye doesn’t mean he’s stopped trickstering and fixing. Look out, Bridgehampton and Manhattan! Paul Manafort has a big secret and even bigger plans to use it to make his comeback!
https://www.alternet.org/2019/02/paul-m ... ald-trump/
Marionumber1 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:34 pm wrote:I find it disturbing that there's an overlap between gambling machine companies and voting machine companies. Back in the 1990s, Louisiana commissioner of elections Jerry Fowler was bribed by e-voting company Sequoia Pacific, at a time when election irregularities suddenly became quite common in the state. Many of the issues on the ballot were gambling-related, like whether Harrah's could build a new casino in New Orleans. Sources told Daniel Hopsicker that Fowler had gotten into gambling trouble at a Harrah's casino shortly before he started taking bribes, and the New Orleans election supervisor who managed access to the voting machines died of a "suicide" shortly before the election. All of this suggests that Sequoia was paying off Louisiana election officials to gain access to the machines and fix elections for gambling interests. The bagman for these bribes was Sequoia executive Pasquale Ricci, a man from New Jersey who owned multiple extravagant houses: one in New Jersey and one in Louisiana. His only punishment for bribing Fowler was a year of home detention.
Both Sequoia and Diebold Election Systems were ultimately swallowed up by the Canadian company Dominion Voting Systems. The connections, however, remain. On Dominion's board as executive vice president of operations is Nicole Nollette, who was formerly a Navy officer, Wall Street investment banker, and high-level staffer at International Game Technology (IGT), the largest slot machine company in the world. During her time at IGT, the company merged with GTECH. It happens that GTECH was once represented by Paul Manafort and Roger Stone's lobbying firm, and it was later also represented by Manafort's business partner Rick Davis. IGT itself had as chairman until 2018 Donald Sweitzer, a Democratic powerbroker who "worked for Paul Manafort in the 1990s". Sweitzer is the co-chairman of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) alongside Ken Blackwell, who is infamous for rigging the 2004 Ohio election for Bush.
CLTV 2/23/19 9:17pm Play time: 02:30 / Views: 3934
On The 'Normalcy Bias' That Kept Manafort Out Of Jail For Decades
"People have normalcy bias. They thought: 'If Manafort is really such a criminal, clearly someone would do something.' Well guess what? No one did anything and now we have a Russian asset as POTUS backed up by a transnational crime syndicate!"
https://crooksandliars.com/cltv/2019/02 ... tent=10980
Paul Manafort Could Face New York Charges If Trump Pardons Him - Bloomberg
New York state prosecutors have put together a criminal case against Paul Manafort that they could file quickly if the former chairman of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign receives a presidential pardon.
New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is ready to file an array of tax and other charges against Manafort, according to two people familiar with the matter, something seen as an insurance policy should the president exercise his power to free the former aide. Skirting laws that protect defendants from being charged twice for the same offense has been one of Vance’s challenges.
Manafort was convicted of eight felonies, pleaded guilty to two more and is scheduled to be sentenced next month for those federal crimes. Prosecutors working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller have recommended as long as 24 years, a virtual life sentence, for the 69-year-old political consultant.
The president, who has bemoaned Manafort’s treatment at the hands of Mueller, said in November that he has not ruled out a pardon. He has frequently talked of his broad pardon power, possibly extending even to himself, and acted to liberate two political allies previously.
A spokesman for Vance’s office declined to comment, as did Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort. The White House didn’t respond to a request to comment.
Prosecutors in Vance’s office began investigating Manafort in 2017, months before Mueller charged him with conspiracy, failure to file reports of foreign bank accounts and failure to register as an agent of a foreign country, activities stemming from his earlier work for Ukraine. Mueller’s team followed up with more charges of bank fraud, filing false tax returns and failure to file reports of foreign bank accounts in early 2018.
From November 2017: Manafort Bankers, Associates Summoned to Talk to Manhattan D.A.
At the state level, Vance is preparing an array of criminal charges. While their full extent isn’t clear, they would include evasion of New York taxes and violations of state laws requiring companies to keep accurate books and records, according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the investigation is confidential.
Much of the evidence against Manafort has emerged through Mueller’s prosecutions. But Vance’s office can’t cut and paste Mueller’s charges into a state indictment. It must avoid New York’s double jeopardy law, which provides protections for defendants even stronger than those guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.
Former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman anticipated this concern last year when he urged Albany lawmakers to tweak the state’s robust double jeopardy protections to allow local prosecutors to charge individuals convicted of federal crimes but pardoned by the president. The state legislature didn’t follow through on his request.
Nevertheless, Vance’s office has identified several areas where it believes Manafort can be charged with state offenses without triggering double jeopardy protections.
For example, New York law allows defendants who have already been convicted of evading federal taxes to be charged with the same conduct as it applies to state taxes. As a part-time resident of New York, Manafort has some exposure.
Mueller’s court filings also contain evidence of Manafort’s manipulation of his business records as part of efforts to secure bank loans. While Mueller charged bank fraud based on this conduct, Vance could hit Manafort with state charges of falsifying books and records, according to one of the people.
Manafort’s legal team would almost certainly challenge the state’s efforts, invoking constitutional protections. New York’s double jeopardy provisions have frustrated state authorities in the past, said John Moscow, who prosecuted global bank fraud and money laundering cases under Vance’s predecessor Robert Morgenthau.
“My suggestion is to change the double jeopardy statute in New York to permit prosecutions with this kind of conduct in mind,” said Moscow, who is now at Lewis Baach LLC and isn’t involved in the matter. “As interpreted, the statute is too broad and needs to be rethought.”
If convicted of state crimes, Manafort would face confinement in notoriously tough prisons. L. Dennis Kozlowski, the former Tyco International Ltd. chief executive officer convicted in 2005 of securities fraud, grand larceny and falsifying business records, served part of his 8 1/3-to-25 year sentence at a medium-security prison.
Along with commuting some sentences, Trump has issued seven pardons, several of them to staunch political allies including Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona and conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza. At times he has seemed to relish his clemency power, musing about a possible pardon for Martha Stewart and commuting the sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Matthew Whitaker, who was acting attorney general until last week, told lawmakers on February 8 that he hadn’t had discussions about potential pardons. But asked by U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar, a Texas Democrat, what he knew of any pardon documents that had been prepared, Whitaker responded: “I am aware of documents relating to pardons of individuals, yes.”
Escobar’s time then expired, and no follow-up question was asked.
— With assistance by Alyza Sebenius
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... ardons-him
MANAFORT’S BID FOR A PARDON: NO COLLUSION NO COLLUSION NO COLLUSION NO COLLUSION NO COLLUSION NO COLLUSION NO COLLUSION NO COLLUSION
February 25, 2019/13 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by empty wheel
Paul Manafort submitted his DC sentencing memo. I lay out some of his more ridiculous claims about wanting to serve public servants like Mobutu Sese Seko, Ferdinand Marcos and Jonas Savimbi and his use of “garden variety” to describe his epic corruption in this thread. Particularly given the way that parts of this memo will surely piss off Amy Berman Jackson (and probably even TS Ellis, his EDVA judge), the real substance of his argument is this:Importantly, the defendant has not been charged with any crimes related to the primary focus of the Special Counsel’s investigation; i.e., “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump[,]” otherwise referred to as “Russian collusion” by the national media.
As said at the beginning of the case, there is no evidence of Russian collusion.
Shortly after Mr. Trump’s election, the Acting Attorney General appointed the Special Counsel in May 2017 to investigate allegations that his campaign colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election. The scrutiny was (and remains) intense because the investigation involves a sitting U.S. president.
Rousing the defendant and his wife from bed, the federal agents entered their home with guns drawn and searched high and low—not for evidence of Russia collusion—but rather for evidence of tax and financial crimes and Mr. Manafort’s failure to file forms under the obscure FARA statute.
In October 2017, unable to establish that Mr. Manafort engaged in any Russia collusion, the Special Counsel’s Office charged Mr. Manafort in the District of Columbia with crimes that did not relate to Mr. Manafort’s work on the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and generally involved his employment years ago by Ukrainian oligarchs, politicians and the Party of Regions. Several months later, in February 2018, the Special Counsel increased the pressure by charging Mr. Manafort in the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) with tax fraud, failing to report foreign bank accounts, and bank fraud—allegations, once again, that predated the 2016 campaign or that were unrelated to collusion between Mr. Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.5
5 As U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, III noted in the EDVA matter, the Special Counsel’s strategy in bringing charges against Mr. Manafort had nothing to do with the Special Counsel’s core mandate—Russian collusion—but was instead designed to “tighten the screws” to compel Mr. Manafort to cooperate and provide incriminating information about others. See United States v. Manafort, 18-CR-0083-TSE (EDVA), Tr. of May 4, 2018 Motions Hearing at 5
The Special Counsel’s investigation and prosecution in this case (and the EDVA case) do not charge him with anything related to Russia collusion or to the presidential campaign. 34
34 As Judge Ellis noted in the EDVA case: “And so what is really going on … is that this indictment [was] used as a means of exerting pressure on the defendant to give you information that really is in [the Special Counsel’s] appointment, but itself has nothing whatever to do with it.” United States v. Manafort, 18-CR0083-TSE (E.D.Va. 2018), Tr. of May 4, 2018 Motions Hearing at 8.
The sentences already imposed in other cases that have been investigated and/or prosecuted by the Special Counsel’s Office reflect the fact that courts recognize that these prosecutions bear little to no relation to the Special Counsel’s core mandate of investigating allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.
Particularly given ABJ’s finding that Manafort lied about how he gave the Russian government polling data via Konstantin Kilimnik amid conversations about a sanctions-ending Ukraine “peace” plan, and given that the warrant to search his Alexandria condo explicitly including Russian conspiracy in the affidavit, the eight different claims Mueller wasn’t searching for and didn’t find “collusion” are false.
But that’s doesn’t matter. Manafort’s job — if he wants the pardon he has been playing for all this time — is to keep repeating that lie, just like the guy he’s speaking to.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2019/02/25/m ... collusion/
Actually pretty jazzed that Manafort calls his epic corruption "garden variety," which is the term I keep using to refer to ALL THE REST of Trump flunkies epic sleaze.
https://www.politico.com/f/?id=00000169 ... 7d02590001 …
The 10s of millions in money laundering merits just a footnote.
Prolly trying to set a trend for the Trump family.
A consultant to "public officer holders."
You know; like Mobutu Sese Seko, Ferdinand Marcos and Jonas Savimbi. Public servants.
If the ostrich skin jacket fits, Paulie...
The Brownie thinks all this money you're spinning is "blood money," Paulie.
Sadly, he's not entirely wrong.
This is when Paulie first got in trouble with FARA, when he was double dipping.
Manafort really risks pissing off Ellis by mentioning this over and over--he sort of backed off this stance.
For a 70 year old man who hasn't lived well, this is actually a fairly modest list of prescriptions.
Manafort only engaged in bank fraud bc he was trying to last long enough to cash in on Donald Trump.
Tony Podesta, Vin Weber, and Greg Craig may face prison bc of the way Manafort organized them to commit crimes.
This. is. really. going. to. piss. ABJ. off.
At least Roger Stone won't be the only one.
Note that ABJ agreed that Manafort lied abt the Kilimnik conspiracy, just not at level for a finding.
https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/1 ... 3573569536
Greg Craig in what they called an “off-shoot” of the Paul Manafort investigation
47 months for Manafort before Judge Ellis. That's about 40% of what I guessed, 120 months. It's a very substantial departure (although almost certainly a legal sentence) from the guidelines of 19-24 years.
/2 A departure from 19 years to under 4 years is very dramatic. It's the kind of departure defense lawyers dream of. It's the kind of departure that's FAR more likely to be enjoyed by the sort of person who commits crimes with banks and wires than drugs or guns.
/3 It's pretty surprisingly lenient (though, in context, longer than average for white collar crime). Judge Jackson comes next. She can sentence up to 10, and can make it concurrent or consecutive. This changes my assessment of what she'll do. I suspect she'll max him. /end
NEVER FORGET: Not only has trump known Manafort for decades; not only did they live in the same building from the mid-2000s on; not only was Manafort a trump adviser from March 2016 through Election Day; he stayed in touch with the White House *into 2017*.
NEVER FORGET: Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort's daughter texted a close friend in April 2016 saying that "Dad [Manafort] and Trump are literally living in the same building and mom says they go up and down all day long hanging and plotting together."
The ‘Otherwise Blameless Life’ of Paul Manafort
Trump’s former campaign chair has always acted with impunity, as if the laws never applied to him.
Mar 7, 2019
Staff writer for The Atlantic
Jacquelyn Martin / AP
“He has lived an otherwise blameless life,” said Judge T. S. Ellis as he sentenced Paul Manafort to just 47 months in prison on Thursday.
In an otherwise blameless life, Paul Manafort lobbied on behalf of the tobacco industry and wangled millions in tax breaks for corporations.
In an otherwise blameless life, he helped Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos bolster his image in Washington after he assassinated his primary political opponent.
In an otherwise blameless life, he worked to keep arms flowing to the Angolan generalissimo Jonas Savimbi, a monstrous leader bankrolled by the apartheid government in South Africa. While Manafort helped portray his client as an anti-communist “freedom fighter,” Savimbi’s army planted millions of land mines in peasant fields, resulting in 15,000 amputees.
In an otherwise blameless life, Manafort was kicked out of the lobbying firm he co-founded, accused of inflating his expenses and cutting his partners out of deals.
In an otherwise blameless life, he spent a decade as the chief political adviser to a clique of former gangsters in Ukraine. This clique hoped to capture control of the state so that it could enrich itself with government contracts and privatization agreements. This was a group closely allied with the Kremlin, and Manafort masterminded its rise to power—thereby enabling Ukraine’s slide into Vladimir Putin’s orbit.
In an otherwise blameless life, Manafort came to adopt the lifestyle and corrupt practices of his Ukrainian clients as his own.
In an otherwise blameless life, he produced a public-relations campaign to convince Washington that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was acting within his democratic rights and duties when he imprisoned his most compelling rival for power.
In an otherwise blameless life, he stood mute as Yanukovych’s police killed 130 protesters in the Maidan.
In an otherwise blameless life, he found himself nearly $20 million in debt to a Russian oligarch. Instead of honestly accounting for the money, he simply stopped responding to the oligarch’s messages.
In an otherwise blameless life, he tried to use his perch atop the Trump campaign to help salvage his sorry financial situation. He installed one of his protégés as the head of the pro-Trump super PAC Rebuilding America. His friend allegedly funneled $125,000 from the super PAC to pay off one of Manafort’s nagging debts.
In an otherwise blameless life, Manafort was found guilty of tax evasion on an industrial scale. Rather than paying his fair share to help fund national defense and public health, he kept his cash in Cyprus and wired it home to buy more than $1 million in bespoke clothing.
In an otherwise blameless life, he disguised his income as loans so that he could bamboozle banks into lending him money.
In an otherwise blameless life, he attempted to phone a potential witness in his trial so that they could align their stories.
In an otherwise blameless life, he systematically lied to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors, after he promised them his full cooperation.
In an otherwise blameless life, he acted with impunity, as if the laws never applied to him. When presented with a chance to show remorse to the court, he couldn’t find that sentiment within his being. And with Ellis’s featherweight punishment, which deviated sharply downward from the sentencing guidelines, Manafort managed to bring his life’s project to a strange completion. He had devoted his career to normalizing corruption in Washington. By the time he was caught, his extraordinary avarice had become so commonplace that not even a federal judge could blame him for it.
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archi ... me/584419/
Top Trump Aide Led the ‘Torturers’ Lobby’
Paul Manafort and the partners at his firm made a fortune repping some of the most despicable dictators of the 20th century.
04.13.16 1:00 AM ET
Over the course of a long lobbying career in D.C., top Trump aide Paul Manafort and his firm made a fortune fronting for a group of clients once referred to as the “torturers’ lobby.”
So when Manafort accused opponent Ted Cruz of using “gestapo tactics” to court Republican delegates on Meet the Press this past Sunday—it’s something he may have quite a bit of experience with firsthand.
Manafort was a principal at the lobbying firm Black, Manafort, Stone, and Kelly (along with another top Trump ally, Nixon alum Roger Stone), a K Street powerhouse with close ties to the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, as well as top Republicans on Capitol Hill.
But over the years, they made millions by representing a rogue’s gallery of clients far away from D.C.’s genteel corridors of power: dictators, guerilla groups, and despots with no regard for human rights—including one man responsible for mass amputations, and another who oversaw state-sanctioned rape.
One such client was Jonas Savimbi, who led a guerilla army trying to wrest control of the Angolan government from Marxists during the country’s brutal civil war. Savimbi hired Manafort’s lobbying firm to help him get financial support from the U.S. government for his guerilla army, UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola).
And Manafort and co. delivered.
“What the firm achieved was quickly dubbed ‘Savimbi chic,’” reported Time magazine in 1986. “Doors swung open all over town for the guerrilla leader, who was dapperly attired in a Nehru suit and ferried about in a stretch limousine.”
Savimbi paid the firm $600,000 in 1985 for their trouble, The Washington Post reported. The lobbying paid off: then-Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole urged the State Department to send heavy arms to Savimbi’s guerilla army. Savimbi came back for more in 1989, putting the firm on retainer to orchestrate a media blitz. They got him booked on 60 Minutes and Nightline, as the Post noted, and they shelled out more than $200,000 to put him up at the Waldorf-Astoria and Grand Hotel.
“It greatly helped repackage Savimbi as a valiant anti-communist ‘freedom fighter,’” reported Nairobi’s The Daily Nation.
And that so-called freedom fight was quite lucrative for Manafort’s firm—so lucrative, in fact, that they didn’t want it to stop. Spy Magazine reported that the firm’s “hawkish congressional lobbying for more military aid” may have kept a ceasefire in the country’s civil war from coming sooner.
“Clearly, Savimbi wanted peace negotiations for a longer time than Black, Manafort wanted negotiations,” said one conservative Hill aide sympathetic with Savimbi, according to the magazine.
In his memoir, former Sen. Bill Bradley credited Savimbi’s lobbying team with lengthening the war.
“I thought we were making a colossal blunder in Angola,” he wrote. “I had no sense that Jonas Savimbi, our client guerilla warrior, was any more committed to democracy than was the country’s dictatorial leftist leadership. When Gorbachev pulled the plug on Soviet aid to the Angolan government, we had absolutely no reason to persist in aiding Savimbi. But by then he had hired an effective Washington lobbying firm, which successfully obtained further funding.”
The slow peace process meant protracted violence. From 1986 to 1987, the Reagan administration sent a total of $42 million to UNITA. According to Joy James’s book Resisting State Violence: Radicalism, Gender, and Race in U.S. Culture, Savimbi’s army “maimed or killed tens of thousands, creating one of the largest amputee populations in the world through its laying of landmines in farm fields, roads, and school yards.”
As is often the case, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. And Savimbi’s army was particularly violent.
“Indiscriminate killings, mutilation of limbs or ears, and beatings were used by rebels to punish suspected government sympathizers or as a warning against betraying UNITA,” reads a Human Rights Watch report. “UNITA continued to forcibly recruit men and teenage boys to fight. Girls were held in sexual slavery and used as a source of forced labor.”
Savimbi and UNITA were not the only Manafort clients comfortable with brutality.
A 1992 report from the Center for Public Integrity listed Black, Manafort, Stone, and Kelly as one of the lobbying firms to profit the most by doing business with foreign governments that violated their people’s human rights.
From 1991 to 1992, the firm made $3.3 million from what the Center for Public Integrity dubbed “the torturers’ lobby.”
From 1990 to 1993, the Kenyan government paid Manafort’s firm more than $1.4 million to lobby the U.S. government to send them more aid. In that window of time, the U.S. was highly critical of the country’s human rights record, as the Center for Public Integrity detailed.
Severe police brutality, prisoner abuse, and crackdowns on hunger strikers all drew opprobrium. The country still raked in $38.3 million in aid from the U.S. government—thanks in part to the hard work of Manafort and his partners.
Mobutu Sese Seko, dictator of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) also benefitted from Manafort’s lobbying expertise. The Guardian described him as “one of Africa’s most flamboyantly corrupt leaders.”
He was also one of its worst. Human-rights activists hold the dictator responsible for government-sanctioned torture, detainment, and rape.
“Quantitatively, I think Zaire has the worst human rights record in Africa,” one UN official told the Chicago Tribune in 1997. “In terms of social and economic rights and the number of state actors violating those rights, it’s massive. And the bulk of human rights violations in this country never will be known. It’s a black hole.”
And the black hole had a powerful ally. The dictator retained Manafort’s firm in 1989 to help remedy some longstanding PR problems—for a cool $1 million a year.
Manafort partner Charlie Black, who backs Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the presidential race, pushed back on the assertion that his firm’s foreign clients were anything but above board and said they “never (1981-present) accepted a foreign client without informally clearing with the State Department that our scope of work is in U.S. interests.”
“In the case of Mobutu, he told US he would have democratic elections for a parliament. US State asked us to organize those elections,” Black said. “We did. He did not like the results and fired us.”
But, of course, there’s more. In 1985, Manafort himself announced that his firm would take on the Chamber of Philippine Manufacturers, Exporters, and Tourists Associations as a client. That group had close ties with dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whose regime put the country under martial law and was responsible for hundreds of cases of torture. In 2004, Transparency International listed him as one of the world’s 10 most notorious leaders of the previous two decades (along with Mobutu Sese Seko, another Manafort client). They estimate Marcos embezzled between $5 billion and $10 billion from his people. Almost 50,000 Filipinos have filed claims for reparations for crimes against them during Marcos’s era of martial law, according to the Philippine news site Rappler.com.
Marcos enlisted Manafort’s team as part of an effort to appear more democratic. Time reported that he paid the firm $900,000, and that they said they were trying to make Americans have more faith in the country’s democratic process.
“What we’ve tried to do is make it more of a Chicago-style election and not Mexico’s,” Manafort told the magazine.
When the Reagan administration finally soured on the dictator—the whole “Chicago-style election” thing didn’t exactly work out—they helped out their pals at the firm.
“The firm was so entwined with the Reagan White House that administration officials gave it a heads-up so it could cancel its contract with a client, President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, two hours before Reagan withdrew his support,” reported The New York Times in 2008.
Another dictator who both made Transparency International’s list and Paul Manafort’s was Sani Abacha of Nigeria. He hired a different Manafort firm—Davis, Manafort & Freedman—in 1998 as part of “an aggressive public relations and lobbying campaign to persuade Americans that he was the leader of a progressive emerging democracy,” according to The New York Times. Richard Davis, one of the principals in that firm, took a leave of absence to run John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign. When a reporter asked McCain’s campaign about his campaign manager’s association with Abacha, the campaign pointed to Manafort.
“Howard Opinsky, a press secretary for the McCain campaign, said tonight that Mr. Davis did not actually work on the Nigeria account and that it was handled by a partner, Paul Manafort,” The New York Times noted in a 2000 report.
Highlights of the Nigeria account include lots of torture. A 1997 State Department report detailed persistent torture and abuse under the Abacha regime.
“[D]etainees frequently died while in custody,” reads the report, “and there were credible reports that security officers seeking to extract confessions regularly beat suspects, detainees, and convicted prisoners. Security officers tortured prisoners with whippings, suspension by the limbs from the ceiling, burning with candles, and extraction of teeth.”
Then there was Manafort’s work for Putinite Viktor Yanukovych, who became president in 2010. Manafort had been introduced to Yanukovych by Ukraine’s richest man, an industrialist named Rinat Akhmetov, The New York Times reported.
It was Manafort’s most recent high-profile political consulting job, and while his candidate was victorious, Yanukovych was eventually drummed out of office in disgrace in 2014 after accusations that he undercut freedom of the press and tried to suppress opposition political parties.
At the time of the election, Manafort had spun that Yanukovych was merely misunderstood, and that “the West has not been willing to move beyond the cold war mentality and to see this man and the outreach that he has extended.”
As the seminal Euromaidan protests, which pressed the pro-Putin Yanukovych to develop closer ties with Europe, grew to a climax and reports of Yanukovych’s lavish spending became public, he was removed from the presidency—but not before being accused of using a special police force to violently disband protesters. Even his own political party would eventually condemn him and cast him out.
Supporters of transparency and reform in Ukraine are appalled that a former Yanukovych adviser is now involved with the American presidential elections.
“Now we hear that an adviser of Yanukovych, Paul Manafort, has been hired by the Donald Trump campaign. This is someone who took part in perversion of democracy in Ukraine and if [Manafort’s] role in that fiasco turns out to be substantial, then he should not be allowed within 100 feet of government buildings of any self-respecting democracy,” Pavel Yarmolenko, a spokesman for the Ukraine Freedom Support Group, told The Daily Beast. The UFSG is dedicated to urging Congress to approve aid to Ukraine.
The list of unsavory clients continues on: In the mid-1980s, during the Reagan era, Manafort peddled influence on behalf of Saudi Arabia, urging Congress not to pass legislation to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem—a longstanding contention in the broader Arab-Israeli dispute. Manafort’s lobbying then is counter to Trump’s current position on the issue, and most political candidates seeking support from the pro-Israel community have advocated for moving the embassy to Jerusalem, which Israel has declared to be its capital.
To this day, Saudi Arabia continues to have one of the world’s worst human rights records—but that never seemed to bother Manafort: Ultimately for his efforts to lobby for and advise the Saudi government, he was paid what with inflation would today be more than $1.5 million.
Manafort’s firm also made $450,000 a year from the now-deposed Somalian dictatorship of Siad Barre, according to the now-defunct Spy Magazine in 1992.
Barre, who took power as president through a coup, ruled for 22 years before he was overthrown during a civil war. The dictator sought ties with the Soviet Union and attempted to implement an official ideology called “scientific socialism,” but later attempted to switch course and seek U.S. aid. Barre’s exile left the country on the edge of mass starvation, The New York Times reported in the dictator’s obituary, and his time as its president was most notable for a war with Ethiopia and numerous human-rights abuses.
Trump’s campaign has stirred controversy not only for his contentious comments and puzzling proposals, but also for the company he keeps. He has hired as senior staffers a lawyer who doesn’t think spousal rape is a crime and a campaign manager who has been charged with assault, for example.
So a lobbyist to the world’s most reprehensible dictators might fit in just fine.
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