Manafort, Gates, and Conspiracy Against the United States — Topline Info
Paul Manafort, the chairman of the Trump campaign was just indicted forconspiracy against the United States of America in the Russia collusion investigation, along with 11 other charges.
- Charges range through at least 2016, long after he left the campaign and include time when Trump was in the White House.
- Rick Gates, Manafort’s deputy who was also indicted, never left the campaign and was even on the inaugural committee. He has made visits to the White House to meet with Trump.
- In Ukrainian politics, there is fundamentally no difference between pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians and the Kremlin. Russian money is behind them.
- The inclusion of money laundering charges indicates something important:leverage. If Manafort’s Kremlin-aligned partners were aware of his money laundering crimes, that would give them leverage over the head of Donald Trump’s campaign.
“Paul’s in charge”: Manafort was the head of Trump’s campaign, was repeatedly praised by Trump, and continued to speak with the President while he was in the White House — long after the FBI began investigating him.
- Trump himself personally confirmed Manafort’s hiring on March 28, 2016, then released a statement a day later that he would be a volunteer on the campaign. Trump was quoted in the statement as saying “Paul is a great asset and an important addition as we consolidate the tremendous support we have received in the primaries and caucuses.”
- Manafort was promoted to Trump’s campaign chairman and chief strategist on May 29, 2016, replacing campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks indicated that the “title change should [have been] seen as ‘putting permanence’ to Manafort’s role in the campaign.”
- Upon his own firing in June 2016, Lewandowskisaid that “Paul Manafort has been in operational control of the campaign since April 7. That’s a fact.”
- Newt Gingrich told Sean Hannity: “Nobody should underestimate how much Paul Manafort did to really help get this [Trump] campaign to where it is right now.”
- As the campaign’s chairman and chief strategist, Manafortattended the controversial meeting with a Russian lawyer and Russian-American lobbyist on June 9, 2016, in Trump Tower to discuss how the Russian government could work with the Trump campaign in the 2016 election.
- On June 20, 2016 Reuters quoted Sean Spicer, then the communications director for the Republican National Committee, in reference to Manafort’s role in the campaign, as saying “Paul’s in charge.”
- Soon after his promotion, Manafort was questioned by the press about his ties to Russia, including his debts to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and his lobbying work for pro-Russian political parties in Ukraine.
- It was later revealed that Manafort had offered the Putin-aligned oligarch secret briefings on the campaign while he was running it.
- On August 19, 2016, Trump announced that Manafort resigned from the campaign amid controversy over his ties to Russia. In a statement, Trump said, “I am very appreciative for his great work in helping to get us where we are today, and in particular his work guiding us through the delegate and convention process. Paul is a true professional and I wish him the greatest success.”
- Sean Spicer, then-White House Press Secretary, attempted todistance Manafort from the Trump campaign on March 20, 2017 while former FBI director James Comey was testifying before Congress on Russian meddling in the election, saying that he “played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.” He laterbacktracked after facing criticism for the falsehood.
- Manafort was reportedly an all-but-official part of the Trump transition team,advising the president on cabinet picks and even reportedly weighing in on how to respond to the revelation of the Steele Dossier; CNN reported that Manafort had “a direct line to top decision-makers,” including Vice President Mike Pence, who was in charge of the transition.
- Manafort reportedly said this past summer that he has sway over Trump’s decision-making, and that he influenced the administration’s policy towards China.
- CNN reported that Manafort and Trump continued to talk after President Trump took office — long after the FBI into Manafort was publicly known — until lawyers for both parties insisted they stop.
Gates outlasted Manafort on the Trump campaign — Just how important of a role did he play?
- Gates, was described as a “Trump delegate wrangler and a top aide to the campaign”.
- He served as a “key figure in planning the Trump inauguration” and “as the chief deputy to [inaugural chairman] Thomas Barrack.” Gates was described as the “’shadow’ chair of the event.”
- In June 2017, The Daily Beast reported that Gates was “still making multiple visits to the White House” and was “working directly for Tom Barrack,” joining Barrack in his visits to Trump in the West Wing.
- In September 2017, Gates was quoted on the issue of the unspent money from Trump’s inauguration committee. He was identified as “a former Trump campaign hand who now works for Barrack,” and Gates indicated he had specific knowledge of the plans for the inauguration committee funds.
- Reports on Gates’ position in the Trump campaign after Manafort was fired are conflicting; however, a campaign spokespersonindicated that Gates would stay on as a liaison to the RNC. Despite reports that Trump wanted Gates to be fired, one former officialclaimed that Gates “was essentially running the inaugural.”
Dealings with Russia that violated US law would give the Russians leverage.Manafort and Gates have extensive ties to Russia, developed over more than a decade of working in Ukraine on behalf the Russian interests in Ukraine for oligarchs aligned with the Kremlin.
- In 2004, Manafort began a decade-long relationship with the pro-Russia Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions, helping them gain power by capitalizing on pro-Russia, anti-NATO sentiment in Eastern Ukraine. Manafort ultimately resigned from the Trump campaign because investigators in Ukraine found secret ledgers listing more than $12 million in off-the-books payments to Manafort from the Party of Regions.
- In 2006, Manafort signed a $10-million annual contract with the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to lobby American officials to “greatly benefit the Putin government” as part of a$60-million-plus business relationship. Manafort also allegedly owes Deripaska at least $19 million from a failed business deal in Ukraine, and offeredthe billionaire secret briefings on the Trump campaign.
- Throughout the period, Gates was one of Manafort’s top business partners and deputies, frequentlytraveling to Moscow on Manafort’s behalf to meet with Deripaska and his associates; Gates’s name appears in both incorporation documents andlegal filings related to Deripaska and Manafort’s failed business partnership.