The Demise of Paul Manafort
Part 9: The Demise of Trump’s Campaign Manager Paul Manafort
This is the ninth part of a point-by-point review of the Russian dossier compiled by former MI6 agent, Cristopher Steele, which documents the fallout from news reports that Donald Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort was receiving secret illegal payments from a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party.
You can read our previous review on the report on Michael Cohen’s contacts with Russians here.
About Paul Manafort
Paul John Manafort Jr. is an American lobbyist, political consultant, and lawyer, who had previously worked as an adviser to the U.S. presidential campaigns of Republicans Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bob Dole.
Manafort had a reputation of seeking out and working for the worst people in history. Some of them include:
- Ferdinand Marcos, former dictator of the Philippines whose wife had many shoes.
- Mobutu Sese Seko, a brutal former dictator of Zaire.
- Inter-Service Intelligence, Pakistan’s CIA, who was paying Manafort to spread disinformation to divert attention away from their terrorist activities.
- Viktor Yanukovych, one of Vladimir Putin’s best friends and the former President of Ukraine.
Directly after the Putin-backed Yanukovych fled Ukraine due to a popular uprising to overthrow him for the safety of Moscow, and while he still had an office in Kiev, Paul Manfort went to work for the campaign of Donald Trump, for free and financially broke, and while still in debt to Putin-backed oligarch Oleg Deripaska for $20 million dollars, who originally hired Manfort to work for Yanukovych in 2004.
On June 20, 2016 Trump fired his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, allowing Paul Manafort to take control of the campaign, making executive decisions including picking Mike Pence as Trump’s running mate, and overseeing the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
During this time, Manafort offered secret status updates to Russian oligarchs close to Putin, and shared secret 2016 presidential campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, who he knew to be a Russian intelligence officer.
But a few months later, on August 15, 2016, his name was found on a “black ledger” in Ukraine, for secret payments of $12 million of dollars. A few days later Manfort resigned from the Trump campaign.
During the 2018 trials of Manafort, we learned that Robert Mueller’s investigation found $60 million dollars in secret payments by the pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine that were not reported on his tax returns.
Manafort poured his secret Ukrainian money into offshore shell companies and failed to either pay US taxes on the funds or report them to the US Treasury Department; and the “financial institution scheme,” after Yanukovych was forced out and Manafort was hard on cash, when he lied to banks in New York to try to get mortgage loans.
And on August 21, 2018, Manafort was convicted of eight counts of bank fraud, tax fraud, and failing to report foreign assets, and faced a maximum of 80 years in prison. Enough to put him away for the rest of his life.
The Dossier makes several claims regarding Paul Manafort:
- Viktor Yanukovych confided directly to Putin that he did in-fact make kickbacks to Manafort, but there was no paper trail. (There was.)
- Putin was skeptical there was no paper trail. (If so, he was right.)
- Manafort was pushed out of the Trump campaign due to a power struggle, with the Black Ledger revelation being key to his ouster.
Putin and Yanukovych’s Secret Meeting on Corrupt Payments to Manafort
On August 15th near Volgograd, Russia, the Dossier alleges Vladimir Putin held a secret meeting with his friend and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, to specifically discuss Paul Manafort and the media revelations about the Black Ledger.
Yanukovych admitted to Putin of illegally funneling Ukranian taxpayer money into the pockets of Paul Manafort, but promised no other evidence could substantiate the Ledger.
It is very possible this meeting happened.
First, a few days later on August 19th, Yanukovych sailed into Volgograd on his private triple-decker yacht, putting him in the same area on the same dates of the secret meeting.
Second, Putin and Yanukovych are best friends. Like, Putin was willing to put the lives of his own people on the line to rescue Yanukovych when there was rioting outside the Ukranian palace in Kiev during the 2014 revolution.
Putin was skeptical there was no paper trail
The Dossier infers Russian President Vladimir Putin was very nervous about evidence linking Paul Manafort directly to Yanukovych and therefore himself, therefore the discovery of the secret Black Ledger would be a point of potential political vulnerability and embarrassment for the Kremlin.
Because we don’t know if this secret meeting took place outside of Volgograd, and what exactly was discussed, this point may remain unknown.
Manafort was pushed out of the Trump campaign due to a power struggle, with the Black Ledger revelation being key to his ouster.
It is no secret that immediately after the disclosure of the Black Ledger, Trump wasn’t happy with Paul Manafort, and made a major organization change in his campaign that demoted Manafort and put Kellyanne “Alternative Facts” Conway in charge.
Around the same time, reports surfaced that Manafort had lost the confidence of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and one of his closest advisers, and other members of Trump’s family, such as Eric Trump, who told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures”
“I think my father didn’t want to be, you know, distracted by, you know, whatever things Paul was dealing with.”
The Dossier also makes the claim that Corey Lewandowski had a hand in the ouster or Paul Manafort.
This is entirely possible.
There was a lot of bad blood between the two after Manafort worked behind the scenes to have Lewandowski fired from his position as the Trump campaign manager.
Manafort even went so far to demand the Trump campaign stop speaking to Lewandowski, but that didn’t stop Trump himself, who remained close.
— John King (@JohnKingCNN) July 22, 2016
The thing is, none of this was a secret, the in-fighting of the Trump 2016 campaign was way out in the open.
As far as our ratings go, if there was anything in-between “confirmed” and “probable,” this would be in that category.
Let’s say “PROBABLE+”
Paul Manafort is a criminal, and worked with the worst people in history. The fallout from his secret payments by Putin-backed politicians in Ukraine means it is entirely possible the Kremlin was worried this would expose them.
Part 10 coming soon.