Since Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s team told the former Trump Campaign Chair and longtime lobbyist for foreign dictatorships that they planned to indict him in the Russia investigation, Paul Manafort has been making foreign travel plans to a very controversial destination.
Yesterday, The New York Times exposed that while under investigation for working as a foreign agent, Manafort is once again working as . . . a foreign agent. This time, it’s for Kurdistan, as their government tries to pass a referendum for independence from Iraq this coming Monday.
While their cause may be a worthy one, it is in direct opposition to stated U.S. policy, which says that passing the referendum at this time could further destabilize the region and intensify violence there, possibly helping the Islamic State.
Manafort was recruited by the son of Iraq’s Kurdish leader, Massoud Barzani, and has been traveling back and forth between the U.S. and the Kurdistan region since around the time Mueller conducted his pre-dawn raid on the lobbyist’s Alexandria apartment.
The New York Times reported as to what reasons Manafort may have for continuing to work contrary to stated U.S. interests while under intense scrutiny for doing just that:
Mr. Manafort’s associates say he has come under increasing financial strain from mounting legal bills as his lawyers have responded to inquiries from congressional committees and the special counsel related to the Russia inquiries. The associates said the scrutiny had made it difficult for Mr. Manafort to maintain his consulting business.
Meanwhile, Manafort is hustling to drum up new business as the ground beneath his feet beings to crumble:
[H]e has continued traveling the world pitching potential business deals, with a particular focus on China. He met in April with a Shanghai construction billionaire whom Mr. Manafort is advising on how to pursue infrastructure contracts around the world.
With yesterday’s revelations that FISA wiretaps proved Manafort offered private briefings to a Russian oligarch during Trump’s campaign, it appears that his options as a businessman — and a free citizen — are rapidly dwindling.
President Trump must be quaking in his boots that Manafort is about to use the one option he has left.
Lucia Brawley is a Harvard- and Yale-educated writer, producer, actor, and political organizer. She runs the progressive political Facebook group Consenting to Lead. To learn more, please go to luciabrawley.com.