Politics is a web of complicated ties and in most cases, deals are made that always have people questioning the real intent behind such actions. Paul Manafort in 2016 was a man whose world came crashing down after his rehab experience and his extramarital scandal but a step he took changed everything. He volunteered to be on current U.S president Donald Trump’s campaign team as an unpaid member which he got after calling in for favors from old friends like Roger Stone and Trump’s billionaire friend, Tom Barrack.
As selfless as his intentions may have seemed, Manafort has presently been convicted for bank and tax fraud charges. He is also being linked with Russia’s interference in the U.S 2016 presidential elections alongside shady dealings with Ukraine. Keep reading to get full details on this story.
Paul Manafort and The Trump Campaign
Back in March 2016, Paul Manafort joined the Trump campaign shortly before the Republican National Convention that was to be held in Ohio in order to pave the way for Trump who was a presidential aspirant then. Renowned for his expertise in Republican politics, Manafort landed the position of Campaign Chairman in just two months. However, his appointment was questionable given his bankrupt status as at then. Among other things, it was expressed that him being in charge of running the activities to elect the president made him open to bribery targets that may entice him.
As speculated, in August 2016, it was announced that Manafort had withdrawn from the campaign with his position given to Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway as a result of illegal receipt of about $12 million from the Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych.
Connection to Ukraine and Russia
Before he became a part of the Trump campaign team, Paul Manafort had worked as a consultant for the ex-Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych; he was very instrumental in his 2010 presidential election victory. However, in 2014, he had to vacate the sit as a result of a massive protest in the country against his close ties with Russia which made Ukraine forgo a deal that would have brought them closer to the West.
Yanukovych even had to seek refuge in Russia as the protest became bloody. There was also an incident in which security agents had to shoot protesters; this further complicated the crisis and Manafort was caught in the middle of it all. He was regarded as a culprit for advising the former president to order an open fire that claimed many innocent lives.
Paul Manafort is known to have ties with Russia which dates as far back as the time he started working for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. Manafort’s right-hand man, Konstantin Kilimnik who was in charge of his office in Kyiv was said to be a Russian spy by special agent Paul Muller. Although Kilimnik denied the allegations, sources still believed he was used to pass across information during the 2014 Ukraine turmoil between the United States government and the Russian government.
Manafort is also linked with the issue of Trump collision with Russia in the bid to influence the 2016 election. He was one of the persons that attended the meeting at Trump Tower with the Russian delegates. As claimed, the essence of the meeting was to get information that would tarnish Hillary Clinton, the Democrat presidential aspirant’s image.
Paul Manafort Vs Robert Mueller – The Ongoing Investigations
Paul Manafort has been under investigation since 2014 for his association with Ukraine by special counsel Robert Mueller who also brought charges against him in connection to Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S presidential election.
Muller is said to have evidence which ranges from emails, bank records, and about 35 persons set to testify against Manafort, including Rick Gates his alleged partner in crime. In February 2018, Mueller brought further allegations against Manafort in respect to tax evasion and bank fraud which amounted to $30 million that he is said to have laundered using offshore accounts.
He also brought charges against the consultant for hiring ex- European politicians to lobby for Ukraine. Manafort was not found guilt initially as the jury believed that Muller was only pulling those strings in order to get information from the consultant that would implicate Trump. But then, in August 2018, Mueller achieved his first victory as Manafort was convicted for 8 counts tax and bank fraud charges. However, no charges concerning the Russian collusion have been held against him. Manafort still holds that he is innocent.