JOSEPH CANNING | firstname.lastname@example.org
The allegations and investigations directed toward U.S. President Donald Trump and his team have created a mounting tension since he was elected almost exactly a year ago. Defying these allegations, Trump has repeatedly accused the accusers of supporting a baseless “witch hunt” against him over Twitter.
On Monday, Oct. 30, Paul Manafort—Trump’s former campaign manager—had twelve charges of money laundering and conspiracy formally brought against him.
While Manafort’s crimes may not directly incriminate Trump of anything, they reveal a dizzying thread of events that refutes his “witch hunt” narrative that much more.
Manafort and his accomplice, Richard Gates, allegedly used offshore bank accounts to hide about $18 million from the U.S. government according to the indictment. The same document also stated that “Manafort used his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States, without paying taxes on that income.”
These charges would be bad enough, but the curious source of all that money landed him with the charges of conspiracy: extensive involvement in Ukrainian politics. Manafort acted as an adviser to the former, infamous Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych who was deposed by popular vote in early 2014.
Yanukovych was the most prominent member of the Party of Regions—a pro-Russian party within Ukraine. His tenure was marred by widespread cronyism, corruption, critically mishandled finances, and violence toward protesters.
Already, Manafort’s role as Trump’s campaign manager should be looked at with suspicion. Manafort is evidently a man who does not concern himself with morals which is terribly ironic for a conservative platform; however, it does suit Trump’s dethatched pragmatism.
The news that has Trump sweating under his collar though is the confirmation of clear connections to the Russian government that were available to him through Manafort.
The Russian connection
Returning to Yanukovych’s tale, after he was ousted, he promptly fled to Russia, a natural ally to him. According to an October 2014 article by the BBC, Russian president Vladimir Putin stated he “will say it openly—[Yanukovych] asked to be driven away to Russia, which we did.”
It is no stretch to say that the campaign manager would have been able to contact Yanukovych in 2016 and it is apparent that Yanukovych has personal ties to the most powerful person in Russia.
On July 11, emails were widely circulated that revealed Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., had met with a Russian lawyer in 2016 who claimed to have “dirt” on rival politician Hillary Clinton. That meeting reveals that Trump’s campaign was considering Russia as a possible political ally.
On Twitter, Trump defended Manafort with lies to the last, claiming “NO COLLUSION”. Unfortunately for the president, Manafort plead guilty to that charge just a couple of hours later.