Manafort Caught Secretly Routing at Least $2.2 Million in Payments to Lobbyists
By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton
After documents surfaced implicating Paul Manafort in corrupt dealings in the Ukraine with ties to not only Vladimir Putin, but the Russian mob, now comes a new bombshell. It turns out that Manafort probably broke the law, secretly routing at least $2.2 million to two prominent Washington lobbying firms in 2012 from the pro-Russian governing party in the Ukraine. He did it in a way that hid those connections to influence foreign policy. Bad Russian plant… bad, bad.
Per the AP, under federal law, US lobbyists must declare publicly if they represent foreign leaders or their political parties and provide detailed reports about their actions to the Justice Department. A violation is a felony and can result in up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Manafort has some ‘splainin’ to do and federal charges may be forthcoming.
The Trump campaign, now in panic mode, shuffled the deck quickly last night, saying that Trump doesn’t like to be ‘constrained’. I guess he’s not into handcuffs much. Go figure. Manafort is still on his team as campaign manager… wouldn’t want to sever that life or death connection to Putin, now would we?
Look carefully at who Trump brought up the ranks. Kellyanne Conway joined the Donald Trump campaign three weeks ago and she has appeared on television an average of three times daily, projecting titanic optimism: Trump will win over America’s women as his new campaign manager. That’s just laughable. But even more hilarious is the selection of Breitbart’s Steve Bannon as CEO… a vicious and predatory media hit man with leanings toward racist nationalism. He’s literally turned Breitbart into Pravda for Donald Trump. Which is apropos considering that BuzzFeed put out that he was accepting $500 per story at Breitbart in 2014 to favor Russia over the Ukraine. Think about that and then think about all of Trump’s nefarious Russian connections. Once again, Bannon sought Trump out just as Manafort did. Last but not least, former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes has been hired to prepare Trump for the debates. Yeah, that ought to be great for PR and women love men who have sexually accosted other women. What a winner.
And don’t forget Donald Trump’s daughter and her husband, Jared Kushner, who spent some time on billionaire Democrat David Geffen’s yacht off the coast of Croatia on Friday. The couple were photographed jet skiing and sunbathing on the $200 million boat, named the Rising Sun. Geffen, a Hollywood executive and close friend of President Barack Obama, donated large sums of money to both Bernie Sanders’ and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns during the primaries, according to the Daily Mail.
Ivanka is said to be vacationing with Wendi Deng Murdoch – Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife and Vladimir Putin’s current rumored girlfriend. Cozy with Russia AND Progressive Marxists. It’s a twofer and all in the elite family, don’t ya know.
And we come back to Manafort, because he is key in all this. Manafort and business associate Rick Gates, another top strategist in Trump’s campaign, were working in 2012 on behalf of the political party of Ukraine’s then-president, Viktor Yanukovych. During the period when Gates and Manafort were consultants to the Ukraine president’s political party, Gates was also helping steer the advocacy work done by a pro-Yanukovych nonprofit that hired a pair of Washington lobbying firms, Podesta Group Inc. and Mercury LLC. That’s right… the freaking Podesta Group.
From the AP:
Gates told the AP that he and Manafort introduced the lobbying firms to the European Centre nonprofit and occasionally consulted with the firms on Ukrainian politics. He called the actions lawful, and said there was no attempt to circumvent the reporting requirements of the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act.
The heads of both lobbying firms told AP they concluded there was no obligation to disclose their activities to the Justice Department. Manafort did not directly respond to AP’s requests to discuss the work, but he was copied on the AP’s questions and Gates said he spoke to Manafort before providing answers to them.
Political consultants are generally leery of registering under the foreign agents law, because their reputations can suffer once they are on record as accepting money to advocate the interests of foreign governments — especially if those interests conflict with America’s.
Ironically, one of the lobbying firms Manafort and Gates worked with has strong Democratic ties.
The founder and chairman of the Podesta Group, Tony Podesta, is the brother of longtime Democratic strategist John Podesta, who now is campaign chairman for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The head of Mercury, Vin Weber, is an influential Republican, former congressman and former special policy adviser to Mitt Romney. Weber announced earlier this month that he will not support Trump.
Whether Manafort and Gates will be prosecuted for this is unclear, but it would not surprise me. Prosecutions under the Foreign Agents Registration Act are generally rare, but they do happen. This looks extremely corrupt to me and it appears that Manafort was covering up where the money was coming from and why.
Then you add Carter Paige, who is heavily invested with Gazprom and living in Putin’s lap and Michael Flynn ― a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency who was paid by a Russian state-funded television network to speak at its 10th-anniversary gala ― who Trump brought to his first national security briefing on Wednesday. Flynn is strongly connected to Russia. And did I mention he’s a Democrat? All of these people might as well be living in the Kremlin and if they tried harder they couldn’t more obviously be plants.
They are all certainly national security threats, but here we go… bringing our biggest enemy into our election and possibly into the White House. SMH. With Hillary Clinton you get the Middle Eastern Islamists, the Russians and the Chinese. With Trump, you get the same, only more Russian seasoning with a hint of mob. #WorstElectionEver #NeitherOne2016