Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is now facing federal indictment thanks to an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. While Manafort and his business partner, Rick Gates, face charges of money laundering, conspiracy, and as well as other charges, these alleged crimes may just be the tip of the iceberg.
A new report details how Manafort’s flight records indicate a much more in-depth connection to the Russian government than most people realize. According to a McClatchy report by Peter Stone and Greg Gorgan, Manafort made 18 trips to Moscow and maintained frequent contact with the Russian government including Russian President Vladimir Putin himself for over a decade while serving as a “consultant” for Pro-Kremlin interests in both Russia and the Ukraine.
After Pro-Russian puppet, former Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych (who Manafort helped get elected) was run out of office by his people in 2014, Manafort continued to operate in the region, traveling to Russia another 19 times within the following 20 months while working for the Pro-Russian Opposition bloc party
Manafort’s deep ties to the pro-Kremlin groups have led many to believe that he was at times while serving as Trump’s campaign chairman, an active asset of the Russian government, quietly promoting their interests.
“You can make a case that all along he … was either working principally for Moscow, or he was trying to play both sides against each other just to maximize his profits,” said Daniel Fried, a former assistant secretary of state who communicated with Manafort during Yanukovych’s reign in President George W. Bush’s second term.
“He’s at best got a conflict of interest and at worst is really doing Putin’s bidding,” said Fried, now a fellow with the Atlantic Council.
As the evidence continues to mount against Trump’s former campaign chairman, Manafort maintains his complete innocence when addressing the media. According to Manafort spokesperson Jason Maloni, the allegation that his client was working as a Russian spy is “false” and Manafort “never – ever – worked for the Russian government.”
“Paul Manafort did not collude with the Russian government to undermine the 2016 election,” Maloni said. “No amount of wishing and hoping by his political opponents will make this spurious allegation true.”
However, Maloni would not say whether or not his client, while in Moscow, met with Russian officials.
As Mueller’s investigation continues to close in around the Trump administration like a surrounding storm, Republican politicians are scrambling to back away from questions about Manafort or any of Trump’s associates fast enough to qualify for the Olympics. However, nothing will save Trump and his cohorts from the truth, which continues its slow creep towards impeachment.