The Other McCain

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Manafort and Associate Indicted in Mueller’s Russia Investigation

Posted on | October 30, 2017 | Comments Off on Manafort and Associate Indicted in Mueller’s Russia Investigation


First, the news:

Donald Trump’s former presidential campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has been charged with conspiring to defraud the US in his dealings with Ukraine.
The 12 charges brought against Mr Manafort and one of his business associates, Rick Gates, include conspiracy to launder money.
Mr Manafort and his lawyer have arrived at an FBI office in Washington.
The charges are the first to stem from an inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the US 2016 election.
However, they do not relate to Mr Trump’s campaign but to the two men’s Ukrainian business dealings up to 2015.
An investigation headed by special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into any links between Russia and the Trump campaign. Both sides deny any collusion.

When news of this indictment was leaked Friday, my initial hunch was that it involved a minor figure — and that was wrong, because Manafort is a big deal. Also, my hunch was that the charge would be lying to investigators, which is a typical thing in an investigation like this, because a lot of people just don’t understand their Miranda rights, so they say something wrong to FBI agents and — boom! — hello, Scooter Libby. But that hunch was also wrong, and the actual story is something I didn’t expect: Manafort was charged for his business deals in Russia going back to years before he joined the Trump campaign.

CNN calls these indictments “a dramatic new phase of Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation” except (a) it’s not actually “dramatic” and (b) the investigation is apparently so “wide-ranging” that it includes stuff completely unrelated to the Trump campaign. While the charges against Manafort are serious, and it definitely looks bad that such a key figure had shady foreign business dealings, this doesn’t prove “collusion” with Russia. It’s not about Russia “interfering” with the election or “influencing” Trump’s policy. In other words, even if Manafort is guilty as hell — which has yet to be proven — it’s still a big zero, as far as the heart of the matter that Mueller is supposed to be investigating.



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