President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has been long suspected of having ties to Moscow through his “lobbying” work for the ousted Ukranian dictator and Kremlin puppet Viktor Yanukovych. We now have confirmation that Manafort was working directly for the Russians the entire time.
The Associated Press just revealed that Manafort secretly worked for a shady Russian billionaire a decade ago, Oleg Deripaska, to “advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
This discovery completely contradicts the assertions of both Trump and Manafort that assert he has never worked for Russian interests.
The AP reports that in June 2005, Manafort proposed to aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska that he would personally influence “business deals, politics and news coverage” in the United States, Europe, and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin oligarchy. Manafort wrote to Deripaska that:
We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success…[the effort] will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.
Deripaska must have been pleased with the proposal, because the next year Manafort signed a $10 million annual contract and began making plans to open an office in Moscow.
Manafort also said that he was pushing policies “at the highest levels of the U.S. government — the White House, Capitol Hill and the State Department” and that he had hired a “leading international law firm with close ties to President Bush to support our client’s interests.” He did not identify the specific firm. This work, effectively lobbying for the Russian Government, was not disclosed to the Justice Department.
Failing to register as a foreign agent is a felony, as Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn just discovered.
Deripaska has been described by the Daily Telegraph as Putin’s “most loyal” oligarch. A U.S. diplomatic cable from 2006 describes the man as “among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis” and “a more-or-less permanent fixture on Putin’s trips abroad.”
This close relationship and the intertwined nature of business and politics in Russia means that Vladimir Putin was almost certainly aware of Manafort’s hiring.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer tried to defuse the situation on Monday, saying that Manafort “played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time” during the election. This is yet another shabby attempt at damage control: Manafort was the literal campaign chairman during the run-up to the Republican National Convention.
Manafort and his associates are still in regular contact with Trump and his administration. Manafort’s business partner in Eastern Europe, Rick Gates, has been seen going into the White House, helped organize the inauguration and currently runs a nonprofit organization, America First Policies, which supports the White House’s nefarious agenda.
Manafort’s presence in the Trump campaign is extremely disturbing. Considering the abrupt change in the official Republican stance towards Russia, it can be assumed that Manafort took a leading role in gutting Republican opposition to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and the war they have waged in Eastern Ukraine ever since.
Even Republicans in the Senate are very alarmed at the new revelations. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was horrified by the report of Manafort’s actions, saying: “that’s basically taking money to stop the spread of democracy, and that would be very disturbing to me.”
In summary, Manafort has just been confirmed to be a Russian agent by accepting a large amount of money in exchange for actively promoting the interests of Vladimir Putin’s dictatorship.
These revelations only give more credence to the accusations that the Trump team not only colluded with Russian agents during the election but was actively infiltrated by them. We need a special prosecutor and a bipartisan commission to get to the bottom of this, and we needed it yesterday. This much dirt cannot be brushed under the rug.