On Monday, as James Comey was testifying in the House Intelligence Committee hearing investigating ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Sean Spicer was giving a press briefing in which he attempted (laughably) to distance the Trump campaign from Paul Manafort, the CEO/campaign manager of the Trump campaign from March until the end of August. Manafort was in the position for six months, which included a crucial period during the campaign in which the Republican platform softened its stance against Russia, in which several members of the Trump campaign (including Jeff Sessions) met with a Russian ambassador/spy, and in which the WikiLeaks published 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments from the Democratic National Committee. Manafort was also the campaign manager in July 2016, when Donald Trump urged the Russians to hack into Hillary Clinton’s email.
Manafort was not an insignificant figure in the campaign, but if one is wondering why Sean Spicer might have wanted to distance itself from Manafort on the same day as the House Intelligence hearing, it might have been because Manafort worked as an adviser on the Ukrainian presidential campaign of Viktor Yanukovych, who had close ties to Vladmir Putin. It might have been because he was involved in investment projects with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. It might have also been because Paul Manafort, according to a text from his own daughter, designed a “strategy that was to cause that, to send those people out and get them slaughtered,” wherein “those people” referred to violent removal of the protesters calling for the resignation of pro-Putin President Viktor Yanukovych, the man Manafort helped to get elected.
Or, Sean Spicer might have been trying to distance the campaign from Manafort because of this, from The AP:
Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse. Manafort pitched the plans to Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort eventually signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006, according to interviews with several people familiar with payments to Manafort and business records obtained by the AP.
This illustrates not only that Manafort did work to further Russian interests (despite denials from both Paul Manafort and the Trump campaign) but that he specifically worked to influence politics inside the United States to further Putin’s interest, which sounds an awful lot like what happened in the 2016 election.
July 2016 —— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 22, 2017
Q: Are there any ties between you and Putin or his regime?
Paul Manafort: “No, there are not. That’s absurd.” pic.twitter.com/WQLP3K8GmG
Meanwhile, although Sean Spicer continues to insist that Manafort had a limited role in Trump’s campaign, he is still involved as an advisor to Trump.
Manafort told a colleague this year that he continues to speak with Trump by telephone. Manafort’s former business partner in eastern Europe, Rick Gates, has been seen inside the White House on a number of occasions. Gates has since helped plan Trump’s inauguration and now runs a nonprofit organization, America First Policies, to back the White House agenda.
So, let’s get this straight: Manafort signed a contract for million of dollars with a Putin ally to influence American politics in favor of Putin, and years later, he ran a Presidential campaign that favored Vladmir Putin, the only political figure on the goddamn planet that Donald Trump refuses to speak ill of, despite the fact that Putin is this country’s arch-nemesis.
It smells an awful lot like a gun smoking doesn’t it?
Source: Associated Press