Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Key points from the Manafort-Gates indictment and a campaign advisor flipped

Takeaways from the indictment

Instead of reading the entire indictment, you can read the Five Key Points From the Indictment of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates courtesy of the NY Times. The points are categorized:

  • Lobbying and offshore accounts
  • Lying about work in Ukraine
  • No word of collusion, for now
  • A lavish spender [Manafort]
  • No transaction was too small for prosecutors

Mysterious change in GOP platform

The Huffington Post reports that Paul Manafort’s Indictment Sheds More Light On Pro-Russia Change To GOP Platform. The original report from the Huff Post claimed that The pro-Russia change was the only party platform tweak the Trump camp cared about, sources say.

The conspiracy and money laundering charges against former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort raise new questions about a mysterious pro-Russia change to the Republican Party platform made at the 2016 GOP convention in Cleveland.

Both Trump and Manafort denied having anything to do with the last-minute change to the party platform. But the financial benefits Manafort received from pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine, as detailed in the charges against him, intensifies the skepticism that has long surrounded his denial.

The 12-count grand jury indictment alleges that Manafort and Gates “generated tens of millions of dollars in income” as a result of their lobbying for pro-Russian interests in Ukraine.

“In order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities, from approximately 2006 through at least 2016, Manafort and Gates laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts,” the indictment says.

In total, $75 million flowed through Manafort and Gates’ offshore accounts, according to the indictment. Manafort allegedly laundered $18 million, while Gates allegedly laundered $3 million.

The change to the GOP platform dropped a call for the U.S. to provide arms to Ukraine in response to aggressive moves by Russia that included the occupation and eventual annexation of the Crimea province from Ukraine in 2014. After the annexation, Russian President Vladimir Putin continued to fuel violent unrest in other parts of the Ukraine.

The amendment to the Republican platform came as a surprise just days before Trump was officially nominated for president at the party’s convention. Two Republican National Committee officials privately acknowledged at the time that Trump’s campaign pushed for the change. Trump denied involvement, however.

“I wasn’t involved in that. Honestly, I was not involved,” Trump said. [Scriber: Of course not.]

After months of internal debate, the Trump administration is stalled on whether to arm Ukraine to counter Russian continued aggression, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.

Evidence of collusion

The biggest story yesterday, however, was the testimony from a Trump campaign foreign policy advisor whose statements “make clear that he was acting with the involvement of higher-ranking officials in Trump’s orbit.” Here is a snapshot from the Huffington Post morning email.

There may have been a brief moment Monday morning when the White House thought the week wouldn’t be so bad. The federal grand jury indictment unsealed against Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and his longtime associate Rick Gates, dealt with much of their lobbying work before the 2016 election.

At first glance, the indictments didn’t seem to have much to do with whether Trump and his team coordinated with Russia. They could certainly be used to gain leverage over the former Trump associates, but there was no smoking gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia.

But any moment of optimism would have been short-lived. Not long after Manafort and Gates were in federal custody, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team dropped another bombshell: They’d flipped a former Trump campaign adviser months ago.

The charges against Trump’s former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos ― a little-known, little-qualified 30-year-old who listed his involvement in Model United Nations as one of his credentials ― may end up being a much bigger part of the Russia investigation. The Papadopoulos charges, dated Oct. 5 but only unsealed on Monday, deal directly with his work during the election and his attempt to link up the Russian government with the Trump campaign. His statements also make clear that he was acting with the involvement of higher-ranking officials in Trump’s orbit.

Read more in another Huff Post report about how Robert Mueller Flipped A Trump Campaign Adviser. That’s Bad News For The White House. This little-known 30-year-old campaign aide has been cooperating with investigators for months.

Is that all there is?

h/t Joe Franklin for his citation of that Peggy Lee song commenting on Dave Fitzsimmons’ Facebook post.

My answer to Ms. Lee’s question: Oh, hell no!

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