The geopolitical aspect of the Manafort’s Ukraine involvement and Trump campaign involvement: Germany achieved her old plans and dreams: the control of Ukraine, the most appetizing “morsel” left in the Eastern Europe, after the Russian bear withdrew; grudgingly, fighting, yelling, screaming, appropriating Crimea, and destabilizing the Eastern Ukraine. This control would be incomplete without the sidelining of the US, Germany’s major competitor in the region after the Russian influence had waned.
It is conceivable that the “Manafort affair” was engineered by the German Intelligence, as a part of the larger “Trump affair”, to further discredit Yanukovych, and to solidify the Germany’s control over Ukraine during and by Poroshenko’s rule.
Apparently, Manafort was recommended and introduced to Yanukovych camp by Putin and Deripaska, as the convenient Western and American tool, at the elections time. When things went sour, and Yanukovich fled, the role of the Manafort & Co started to unravel, further discrediting Yanukovich and his “American team”, thus helping to sideline the “wild greedy Americans” who manufacture the elections according to their secret politico-technological recipes, in contrast to the “noble Germans”, the “real protectors” of the “free elections” and the “democratic values”.
The recent, unconfirmed, and somewhat strange and puzzling, press reports about the fistfight between Putin and Yanukovych in Sochi, on April 1, 2017, during which Yanukovich was shot in a leg by Putin’s bodyguard, may help to clarify the emotional dynamics between them.
Yanukovych probably felt deceived and betrayed by Putin’s recommendation of Manafort to him, and this may explain his intense anger if this fight indeed took place, which I think, it did: the reports read like a lot of mysterious, confused, and the disinformational smoke behind the very real fire, which was hard to conceal, especially if Yanukovych was indeed shot in a leg during this exchange.
Germany’s gain in these games is evident, and this once again opens the question about her role and planning of the “Trump affair” and the Manafort “sub-affair”, or a subplot.
It would also be very hard to believe that, given the degree of the German interest and involvement, they did not know about Paul Manafort and his shenanigans. I think they were involved quite actively.
A former Trump aide now under federal investigation as part of the Russia probe earned millions working for a corrupt pro-Russian political party that repeatedly disparaged America’s most important military alliance.
Paul Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign chief from May to August 2016, spent nearly a decade as a consultant to Ukraine’s Party of Regions and its standardbearer, Viktor Yanukovych.
Backed by Russian-leaning oligarchs, the party opposed NATO membership and spouted anti-Western rhetoric that once helped fuel violence against American marines. Its reign ended when Yanukovych fled to Russia after bloody street protests against his personal corruption and pro-Moscow actions.
Manafort has always said he tried to Westernize the party and steer it towards a democratic model, and denies any part in anti-NATO messaging, but Ukrainian critics and U.S. diplomats who served in Kiev aren’t so sure.
Manafort also earned millions doing private business deals with some of the oligarchs who backed the party.
As NBC News previously reported, federal officials say that the money Manafort earned from both the party and the oligarchs — and what he did with it — are part of what has drawn the attention of investigators. New details keep emerging as U.S. and Ukrainian officials piece together Manafort’s contacts and payments in Ukraine from 2004 to 2014.
Manafort Goes to Ukraine
Manafort, the son of a wealthy Connecticut builder, had worked as a lobbyist and as an aide for Republican presidents before his stint in Ukraine. He had built a reputation for repackaging controversial foreign leaders for U.S. consumption. Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Angolan guerilla leader Jonas Savimbi, and Zairian strongman Mobutu Sese Seko were among his clients.
In 2004, Manafort was hired by clients in Ukraine who needed a similar image overhaul.
Viktor Yanukovych had been governor of Donetsk, a Russian-speaking region close to the Russian border, and then the prime minister of Ukraine. He and his faction, the Party of Regions, were thought by many Western observers to have links to organized crime. As a young man, Yanukovych had been convicted of robbery and assault.
John Herbst, who was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2004 to 2006, said the motivations of the oligarchs who ran the party seemed uncomplicated. “My impression of Yanukovych and the others — and I knew most of the senior folks — it was all about getting rich or richer, and maintaining power.”
Aided by high-priced Russian political consultants, Yanukovych ran for president of Ukraine in 2004, and seemed to have won.
But the election was tainted by charges of fraud and corruption — most against Yanukovych and the Party of Regions — and an attempted assassination. A month prior to balloting, someone poisoned Yanukovych’s main rival, pro-Western candidate Viktor Yushchenko, and nearly killed him. On Election Day, Yanukovych, who had trailed in polls by double digits, won by three points, sparking accusations of voter fraud.
The government voided the election results and scheduled a do-over.
Richard Engel: Yanukovych is in Russia 0:49
Weeks before the December 2004 presidential “re”-election, a pro-Russian Ukrainian billionaire and major Party of Regions donor named Rinat Akhmetov asked Manafort to help with Yanukovych’s troubled campaign.
Yanukovych lost the do-over election to Yushchenko, but Manafort won a job he would keep for a decade.
Manafort was hired to prepare the Party of Regions for the parliamentary elections of 2006, in which Yanukovych would try to reclaim the office of prime minister.
By 2006, Manafort and his team were “the principal political consultants in the Party of Regions,” said Taras Chornovil, a former Ukrainian Parliament deputy who was a member of the party from 2004 to 2007.
A leaked U.S. State Department cable from 2006 said that Manafort’s job was to give the Party of Regions an “extreme makeover” and “change its image from … a haven for mobsters into that of a legitimate political party.”
Manafort allegedly came up with the POR’s slogan for the 2006 election, “A Better Life Today.” Though Manafort couldn’t speak Russian or Ukrainian, he taught Yankovych how to give a speech and how to stay on message.
According to Chornovil, Manafort’s campaign tactics that year also included mandating that Yanukovych surrogates wear make-up and Hugo Boss suits during TV interviews. After their TV appearances, they had to return the rented suits to party headquarters, Chornovil said.
When Chornovil complained about Manafort to a close associate of Yanukovych, Chornovil said the man told him Manafort was untouchable — “a big cheese here, in charge of everything.”
Manafort was also trying to help Yanukovych expand his base of support.
Ukraine has a sharp political and geographic divide between its pro-Western, Ukrainian-speaking majority and a large Russian minority that looks East.
While other American consultants, both Democratic and Republican, were working on the campaigns of Ukraine’s pro-Western “Orange” parties, Manafort was working for a party whose base was in Russian-speaking Eastern Ukraine. Manafort’s new bosses were oligarchs friendly to Moscow, and hostile to America’s principal military alliance, NATO.
He could attract pro-Western Ukrainians, meanwhile, by broadcasting his support for European Union membership. Some oligarchs behind the party were eager to do business with Europe anyway.
Bill Taylor, who was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009, said Manafort would contact the U.S. embassy and tell them he was urging his client to look West. “[He said] he’d tell Yanukovych, ‘You’ll do better in Western Ukraine if you orient more toward Europe,” recalled Taylor. “‘To broaden your base, you should orient toward the EU.'”
For the next eight years, Yanukovych would adjust his positions on NATO and the EU as needed, tacking East or West depending on the electoral winds and his audience.
Sometimes his party’s public actions and Yanukovych’s private assurances to Western officials were at odds.
“[Yanukovych] was willing to allow all kinds of cooperation with NATO,” which the Russians did not like, said Amb. Herbst, “but it’s true that [Yanukovych] was organizing rallies against NATO exercises.”
Ukrainian parliament votes to have president tried 0:28
State Department cables show that soon after the Party of Regions helped stoke anti-NATO proteststhat spurred an attack on U.S. marines in Crimea, Yanukovych told the U.S. ambassador he wanted Ukraine to join the military alliance.
Through a spokesman, Manafort says his role with Yanukovych and the POR was “strategist and consultant.” Manafort recommended “strategy and messaging,” he said, “especially as it related to the campaign and fulfillment of campaign promises.” The party’s political campaigns, said the spokesman, were “built on a foundation of economic recovery and building a relationship with the West that supported and focused on Ukraine being a part of the European Union.”
Critics of Manafort, however, insist his gameplan for the 2006 election was to drive a wedge into the electorate. Chornovil, Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker and former investigative journalist, and Taras Berezovets, who advised one of Yanukovych’s main political foes, all say Manafort’s strategy was based on polarizing the voting public. They say he wanted to set Russian speakers against Ukrainian speakers, and supporters of Moscow against supporters of NATO.
According to Berezovets, “His idea was to [use] the matter of language to divide the electorate. The whole idea, it really worked.”
Berezovets called anti-NATO rhetoric “one of the key ideas of Paul Manafort.”
A former U.S. diplomat in the region said he doubted using wedge issues like NATO was Manafort’s idea, but said, “Manafort was not above telling Yanukovych to exploit wedge issues.” He also acknowledged it could seem odd for a U.S. citizen to be advising an anti-NATO candidate: “I think he probably distinguishes his personal values from his political advice.”
Through his spokesman, Manafort said he never had anything to do with any anti-NATO rhetoric. “Mr. Manafort encouraged the POR to move towards the West and NATO.”
The Party of Regions won the parliamentary elections in 2006, making Yanukovych prime minister again.
‘I Am Trying to Play a Constructive Role’
Yanukovych had to run for prime minister again in 2007. Accusations of corruption and links to the Putin regime were damaging his client’s prospects, so Manafort went back to work grooming his image.
Responding to criticism that he was simply repackaging a flawed candidate, Manafort told the New York Times at the time, “I am not here just for the election…I am trying to play a constructive role in developing a democracy. I am helping to build a political party.”
Manafort hired the American public relations firm Edelman to boost Yanukovych’s public image in Europe and the U.S. for a monthly retainer of $35,000.
Yanukovych, meanwhile, traveled to Germany as part of a bid for European Union membership. “In public and private statements both at home and abroad,” said another leaked cable, “Yanukovych consistently reiterates his government’s commitment to Europe.”
Yanukovych lost the 2007 race. After the loss, both he and his party tacked East with overt anti-NATO rhetoric, a response to Yushchenko’s push for Ukraine to join NATO.
From January through April 2008, the Party of Regions mounted a slick, well-coordinated campaign against Ukraine’s NATO membership. The “NATO No” slogan appeared on giant television screens and mass-produced blue signs at rallies where Yanukovych spoke. The same slogan was emblazoned on blue and yellow signs carried by the party’s members of Parliament onto the floor of the Parliament in February.
Provided with examples of the messaging, Manafort’s spokesman declined to comment.
In 2010, Yanukovych ran for president again, and Manafort again worked for him. This time, Yanukovych pledged to end Ukraine’s NATO bid. Ukraine should not be a member of any military bloc, he said, because “this is the view of the Ukrainian people.” During a meeting with the U.S. ambassador, he said he wanted to “improve cooperation with the U.S. and NATO, but was also interested in “restoring” relations with Russia.
He was elected president, and this time turned East for good.
“Either Manafort was wrong about his guy, or he just didn’t care,” said Dan Fried, a former assistant secretary of state for the region under George W. Bush and Obama. “I think Manafort would’ve preferred his guy be the guy he said he was, but he was okay if he wasn’t. He was doing a job for a client. That’s it.”
A year into Yanukovych’s presidency, his administration prosecuted his chief political rival, former “Orange” Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, for allegedly abusing her position during her time in office. She was sentenced to seven years in prison. Many international observers condemned the prosecution as politically motivated.
Manafort again looked to the U.S. to burnish his client’s image, and dispel charges that Yanukovych was a corrupt, pro-Putin autocrat. He arranged for Yanukovych’s administration to hire the law firm Skadden Arps to do a legal review of the prosecution. The resulting brief pointed out some serious procedural flaws, but was largely approving of the Ukrainian court.
Around the same time, however, the Yanukovych administration began to strengthen its ties to the Putin regime and to further Russify the Party of Regions.
According to Inna Bohoslovska, who was a Party of Regions-aligned member of parliament at the time, starting in 2012, “[Ethnically] Russian candidates were placed in all the strong positions. Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Security Service.”
Yanukovych then reversed his position on integrating Ukraine with Europe. Ukraine was about to sign an EU association agreement, making its turn away from Russia and towards the West official, when Yanukovych backed out a week before an official signing ceremony.
Yanukovych’s popularity plummeted. His EU decision ignited massive demonstrations in the streets of Kiev, with some crowds as big as 1 million. Ukrainian police cracked down on protestors, and both police and protestors were killed in street violence that took at least 100 lives.
After three months of demonstrations, Yanukovych was ousted as president in February 2014. He fled to Russia. Activists broke into Mezhyhirya, his ornate presidential palace, and were outraged by its gold-plated opulence. “[Manafort] knew that the president’s salary was not enough for the luxury of the Mezhyhirya, so he should have been aware that it was anything but legal money,” said a top Ukrainian anti-corruption investigator.
Russian troops invaded Crimea shortly afterwards, citing Ukrainian unrest and Yanukovych’s ouster as justifications. Russia has now annexed Crimea.
Manafort’s allies have said that Yanukovych stopped listening to Manafort after he became president in 2010, and that Manafort warned him of the consequences of actions like prosecuting Tymoshenko. Manafort’s spokesman said Manafort “was not involved in any of the actions taken in the street riots and opposed the use of force.”
Manafort returned to Ukraine after Yanukovych fled the country. He tried, with limited success, to help remnants of the Party of Regions regain power in the October 2014 parliamentary elections.
Yanukovych remains in Russia. He has been sanctioned by the EU and the U.S. for the Crimea invasion, and is wanted by Ukraine for a long list of charges that have included corruption and murder.
“Yanukovych was so awful,” said Fried. “That’s not Manafort’s fault, but the fact that Manafort helped Yanukovych win an election didn’t do Ukraine any good.”
Who Paid The Bills?
Manafort says the 2014 election was his last in Ukraine, and he is done with Ukrainian politics.
But he is now facing questions from Congress and federal investigators about how he was paid for his political work, what he did with the money he earned, and what other business relationships he developed while in Ukraine.
A Party of Regions accounting book, dubbed the “black ledger” and obtained in August by Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), allegedly shows that Manafort was paid $12.7 million in cash by the party between Nov. 2007 and Oct. 2012.
The ledger records what Ukrainian investigators say were off-the-books payments by the Party of Regions to election officials, party functionaries, and members of parliament. Manafort appears as an intended recipient in the ledger 22 times from 2007 until 2012, according to the NABU. The Bureau notes that the entries are not themselves proof that the payments were made.
In March, journalist Serhiy Leshchenko made waves when he said he had obtained an invoice on Manafort company letterhead detailing how Manafort received money from a shell company in Belize for the alleged sale of 500 computers.
The date on the invoice and the amount of money match an entry in the black ledger marked “Manafort.” Manafort’s spokesman dismissed the invoice and letterhead as fabricated. The shell company, Neocom Systems Ltd., was registered with Belize’s International Business Company Registry, but the principal of the firm that registered the shell company told NBC News he had only dealt with its lawyers, and couldn’t provide any information about its owners. It was struck from the registry in 2011 and dissolved in 2014, according to the Belizean registry.
Manafort has described the ledger as a forgery. He says any payments he received from Ukraine were legitimate compensation for his work as a consultant, and the payments were lawfully wired to him.
Manafort’s spokesman told NBC News that Manafort “has no knowledge of any payment ledger. Mr. Manafort was only paid via wire — not cash — through U.S. institutions, typically using clients’ preferred financial institutions and instructions.”
The spokesman said Manafort declined to answer whether he had reported to the U.S. government all money and income received from Ukraine.
Ukrainian investigators told NBC News they are now looking into Manafort’s role in the Skadden deal, but say Manafort is not a suspect in any of their investigations.
Manafort also did business with several Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs.
In 2008, Manafort and his real estate partners courted a Ukrainian oligarch named Dmytro Firtash, a major Party of Regions backer, in an $850 million plan to redevelop a famous New York hotel, the Drake. The plan never bore fruit.
Fugitive Ukrainian president vows to fight 6:08
Firtash, who acknowledged to the U.S. ambassador that he got his start in business with the permission of a Russian crime lord, according to a leaked cable, is under federal indictment in the Northern District of Illinois for bribery. He is under arrest in Austria pending his extradition to the U.S.
In 2007, Manafort went into business with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska to invest in Ukrainian and European assets. Manafort’s partner Rick Gates “regularly visited” the Moscow offices of Deripaska’s representatives to discuss the investments, according to a later lawsuit.
In 2007 and 2008, companies controlled by Deripaska paid $26.25 million in investment capital and management fees to Manafort and his partners for a deal to buy a cable television company in Ukraine, according to a U.S. court filing. According to Manafort’s spokesman, all the capital was paid to the seller of the company, but Deripaska’s legal representatives alleged the investment was never actually made.
By 2014, Manafort and Deripaska had fallen out over the cable deal, which never materialized.
What did Manafort do with his Ukrainian millions?
He was associated with at least 15 bank accounts and 10 companies on Cyprus, dating back to 2007, according to two banking sources with direct knowledge.
The sources told NBC News’ Richard Engel that after certain transactions raised concern, the bank began investigating the accounts for possible money-laundering. Manafort closed some of the accounts in 2012.
A spokesman for Manafort told NBC News that all the accounts were set up at the direction of clients in Cyprus, a common banking center for Russians and Ukrainians, “for a legitimate business purpose.”
As NBC News and others previously reported, Manafort also bought four properties in New York City between 2006 and 2013, apparently for cash, and then took out more than $15 million in loans on them between 2015 and 2017.
A source familiar with the matter said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is taking “a preliminary look” at Manafort’s real estate transactions.
Putin on Ukraine: ‘This is an Unconstitutional Coup’ 2:39
Manafort said his transactions were “executed in a transparent fashion and my identity was disclosed — in fact my name is right there on the documents.”
In September 2016, NBC News has reported Manafort took out a mortgage on his home in Bridgehampton, New York, but no mortgage notice was ever filed and no mortgage tax paid, according to Suffolk County records. His name did not appear on any publicly available documents.
A spokesperson for Manafort said the mortgage was a bridge loan and was paid off by December. Manafort’s lawyer said the mortgage paperwork was rejected because of an error and was never refiled.
Federal investigators have now subpoenaed records related to that loan.
Сегодня ночью в Сочи во время встречи экс-президента Украины Виктора Януковича с президентом России Владимиром Путиным и премьер-министром РФ Дмитрием Медведевым произошла ссора.
Об этом изданию “ГОРДОН” сообщил собственный источник.
В результате ссоры Янукович “избил Медведева и дважды ударил по лицу Путина”. После этого подоспевшие охранники ранили экс-президента Украины в ноги.
Причина ссоры неизвестна. По данным источника, во время встречи в Сочи Янукович был “сильно выпивший”.
Янукович был избран президентом Украины в 2010 году. 22 февраля 2014 года, после трех месяцев протестов на Майдане, Верховная Рада признала его самоустранившимся от должности и не выполняющим свои обязанности, после чего были объявлены новые президентские выборы. В том же месяце Янукович покинул Украину, сейчас с семьей проживает в России.
В Украине против него открыто несколько уголовных производств. Его обвиняют в массовых убийствах граждан, завладении государственным имуществом, захвате власти неконституционным путем, действиях, направленных на свержение конституционного строя. В отношении экс-президента применяется процедура заочного осуждения.
Дорогие читатели! Любые совпадения с фамилиями реальных людей случайны. С 1 апреля:)!
Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group, his powerful Washington firm, are now caught up in a federal criminal investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. They may have violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act by failing to properly disclose work completed on behalf of a pro-Vladimir Putin Ukrainian think tank to the Justice Department.
By filing a retroactive FARA disclosure this April, the firm admitted those lobbying efforts, which took place between 2012 and 2014 on behalf of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, may have principally benefitted that country’s government. The investigation of Podesta grew out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Paul Manafort, according to NBC News, which broke the story on Monday. Manafort and associate Rick Gates introduced the Podesta Group and another lobbying firm, Mercury LLC, to the ECMU, per Gates’ account.
The Podesta Group’s involvement with the ECMU was first reported in an Associated Press story on Manafort, then-Trump campaign chairman, in August of 2016. The firm maintained it did not have reason to believe its work on behalf of the ECMU warranted a FARA disclosure in 2012, but nevertheless filed a belated disclosure this spring after exposure in the press.
Speaking to news outlets over the past 14 months, several sources have cast doubt on the Podesta Group’s insistence that it was unaware the nature of its work warranted disclosure to the DOJ.
In the AP’s initial report, a former Podesta employee “said Gates described the nonprofit’s role in an April 2012 meeting as supplying a source of money that could not be traced to the Ukrainian politicians who were paying him and Manafort.” Three other current and former Podesta employees told the AP disagreements broke out between staff over its decision to take on the work, which one of those sources considered to be “obviously illegal.”
After the Podesta Group filed retroactively in April, CNN spoke to people who had been lobbied by the firm over the course of its work for the ECMU. Dan Harsha, who was lobbied in 2013 while serving as communications director for Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN “It seemed pretty clear [the center] was just a front” for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. A former State Department employee who met with the Podesta group around the time of Ukraine’s “bellwether” parliamentary elections in 2012 said, “They were pretty open about their purpose being to give a positive perspective on the upcoming election.”
CNN reported that seven sources said the Podesta Group “left a clear impression that they were representing Ukraine’s government” as lobbyists held meetings around Washington.
In that case, the firm’s decision not to file with the DOJ until after its work for the ECMU leaked into the press, and then after the 2016 presidential election, looks highly suspect. As the AP put it, “Lobbyists in general prefer not to register under the foreign agents law because its requirements are so much more demanding, making their activities more open to public scrutiny.”
In addition to his brother John Podesta’s position at the helm of the campaign, it’s well worth noting, as most outlets have failed to do, that Tony Podesta was a prominent fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 bid for the White House.
The Podesta Group’s efforts on behalf of the ECMU, per its belated disclosures, show the firm made contact with Clinton’s State Department, the National Security Council, and the office of former Vice President Joe Biden over the course of its lobbying campaign to soften the Obama administration’s position towards Ukraine’s then-pro-Russian government.
In his investigation, Mueller will likely probe what Podesta and his firm knew about the ECMU’s connections to the Ukrainian government when deciding how to disclose its lobbying efforts on their behalf.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.
In-Depth–The Atlantic–Mar 22, 2017
Daily Kos–Mar 29, 2017
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
Signed in as mikenova
Share this story on NewsBlur
Shared stories are on their way…
Washington Post–13 minutes ago
HuffPost–6 minutes ago
Breaking News: Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making a false statement to federal investigators.
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime business partner Rick Gates have been charged in a 12-count indictment with conspiracy to launder money, making false statements and other charges stemming from probes into possible Russian influence in U.S. political affairs.
The indictment, unsealed Monday, marked the first criminal allegations to come from Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 election. The two men are expected to make their first court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson at 1:30 p.m.
The charges did not reference the Trump campaign. Instead, they focused on Manafort’s and Gates’s work advising a Russia-friendly political party in Ukraine.
Watch Paul Manafort, Trump’s ex-campaign manager, enter the FBI field office
Former campaign manager for President Trump, Paul Manafort, entered an FBI field office in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 30, following reports that he plans to turn himself in for charges stemming from an investigation into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Former campaign manager for President Trump, Paul Manafort, entered an FBI field office in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 30, following reports that he plans to turn (Reuters)
Former campaign manager for President Trump, Paul Manafort, entered an FBI field office in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 30, following reports that he plans to turn himself in for charges stemming from an investigation into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (Reuters)
The special counsel alleged that for nearly a decade, the two men laundered money through scores of U.S. and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts, and gave false statements to the Justice Department and others when asked about their work on behalf of a foreign entity.
All told, more than $75 million flowed through offshore accounts, the special counsel alleged. Manafort, the special counsel said, laundered more than $18 million, using his wealth acquired overseas to “enjoy a lavish lifestyle” in the United States, purchasing multi-million dollar properties and paying for home renovation.
Gates did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort. Manafort was spotted walking into the FBI’s Washington Field Office Monday morning.
In back-to-back tweets, Trump tried to distance his campaign from the charges.
“Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????” he wrote.
“….Also, there is NO COLLUSION!” he said in a follow-up tweet.
Washington — especially those in political and media circles — had been anxiously anticipating the charges since CNN reported Friday night that a grand jury had approved the first charges in Mueller’s investigation.
Spokespeople for Mueller and the Justice Department declined to comment over the weekend. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment Monday, and a spokesman for the special counsel’s office did not return messages seeking comment.
According to the indictment, Manafort and Gates arranged to hire two Washington-based lobbying firms to work on behalf of their Ukrainian clients, arranging meetings with U.S. officials and boosting their public image in the United States.
Prosecutors say, however, that Manafort and Gates arranged for a Brussels-based nonprofit to nominally hire the companies to hide the fact that their work was for Ukrainian government officials and would otherwise require registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
In fact, prosecutors allege, Manafort was communicating directly with then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych about the effort, promising in 2012 to provide him weekly updates about the effort.
To further obscure Ukrainian involvement in the lobbying effort, prosecutors say payments to the Washington firms were routed through obscure offshore companies. Prosecutors say that when the Department of Justice approached Manafort and Gates in 2016 and 2017 about whether they should have registered as foreign agents for the work, they responded with false and misleading letters, indicating they had not directed the lobbying effort and asserting they did not hold records reflecting their work, even though later searches showed they did, according to the indictment.
Manafort and Gates also were accused of willfully and intentionally trying to hide monies kept in foreign bank accounts — Manafort from 2011 to 2014 and Gates from 2012 to 2014 . And Manafort was accused of filing fraudulent tax returns — stating on tax forms he filed from 2008 to 2014 that he controlled no foreign bank accounts.
The men made tens of millions of dollars for themselves, the special counsel alleged. From 2008 to 2014, according to the indictment, Manafort arranged to wire $12 million from offshore accounts to pay for personal expenses – including $5 million to a home renovation contractor in the Hamptons, more than $1.3 million to a home entertainment and lighting vendor based in Florida, $934,000 to an antique rug dealer in Alexandria, and $849,000 to a men’s clothier in New York.
While the men were set to first appear before a magistrate judge — as is normal — the case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, 63, a 2011 Barack Obama appointee.
Jackson worked as federal prosecutor in the District after graduating from Harvard Law School and specialized in complex criminal and civil trials and appeals at Trout Cacheris. While at the firm, she represented former Democratic congressman William J. Jefferson at his corruption trial, made famous by the $90,000 in bribe money stuffed into his freezer and a legal battle over the raid of his Washington office.
Jackson contributed $1,000 to Bill Clinton’s 1992 Democratic campaign.
Mueller was appointed in May to oversee the probe of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, taking over work that the FBI had begun in July 2016. Their interest in Manafort, though, dates back to at least 2014 — long before Mueller was appointed or Manafort was connected to the Trump campaign.
While Mueller’s probe has focused on Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, investigators have shown interest in a broad array of other topics.
Those include meetings the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow in December, and a June 2016 meeting at Trump tower involving the president’s son, Donald Jr., and a Russian lawyer. Mueller’s team has requested extensive records from the White House, covering areas including the president’s private discussions about firing James B. Comey as FBI director and his response to news that Flynn was under investigation, according to two people briefed on the requests.
Mueller is also investigating whether Trump obstructed justice leading up to Comey’s firing. His team has been actively presenting records and bringing witnesses before the grand jury in D.C. for the last three months.
Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016, and Trump tapped him to serve as campaign chairman in May of that year. He left in August 2016, but Gates, his business partner and protege, continued to play an important role with the campaign even after Manafort’s departure. After the election Gates directed the inauguration plans, including fundraising, under Tom Barrack, Trump’s close friend and adviser.
FBI agents working for Mueller raided Manafort’s home in Alexandria in late July, armed with a search warrant that allowed them to enter at dawn without warning the occupants. Such an invasive search is only allowed after prosecutors have persuaded a federal judge that they have evidence of a crime and they have reasonable concern that key evidence could be destroyed or withheld.
Prosecutors also warned Manafort they planned to indict him, according to two people familiar with the exchange. People close to Manafort and Gates, though, said the indictment came as a surprise to both.
Though both men knew Mueller had been closely scrutinizing their behavior, they had expected some kind of alert when an indictment was imminent. Even over the weekend, they were telling people close to them that they had received no such notification and did not believe they were the subject of the seal charges.
The tactic might suggest Mueller hoped to use the element of surprise against the two men to potentially stun them into a desire to cooperate against other members of Trump’s team.
Dallas shooting updates
News and analysis on the deadliest day for police since 9/11.
Military, defense and security at home and abroad.
The story must be told.
Your subscription supports journalism that matters.
Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, said late Friday, “we are not commenting tonight.” A person familiar with Flynn’s defense said he, too, had received no notice of pending indictment.
Wayne Holland, a McEnearney Associates real estate agent who helped Manafort buy the condo in Alexandria, Va., that was raided by the FBI this summer, testified Oct. 20 before the grand jury in Mueller’s probe after he and his firm were unsuccessful in an effort to quash subpoenas, Holland said Friday.
Holland declined to discuss his testimony, first reported by Politico, but confirmed that an opinion unsealed Friday denied his and his firm’s motion to quash a subpoena by claiming real estate broker records are confidential under Virginia and District laws.
Devlin Barrett, Carol D. Leonnig, Sari Horwitz, Spencer S. Hsu, Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller and Adam Entous contributed to this report.
CNBC–2 hours ago
AOL–36 minutes ago
Highly Cited–CNN–59 minutes ago
In-Depth–Hindustan Times–1 hour ago
Live Updating–The Independent–51 minutes ago
The Boston Globe
Read the indictment against Paul Manafort
The Boston Globe
Document. Pages. Notes. Text. Zoom. CLOSE. Previous for “” Next. p. 1. Loading Loading. p. 2. Loading Loading. p. 3. Loading Loading. Manafort Gates Indictment Filed and Redacted. Contents. Original Document (PDF) ». Related Article ». Contributed by: …
New York Times
Paul Manafort, Who Once Ran Trump Campaign, Indicted on Money Laundering and Tax Charges
New York Times
WASHINGTON — Paul Manafort and his former business associate were indicted on Monday on money laundering, tax and foreign lobbying charges, a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over President Trump’s …
Manafort and former business partner charged with conspiracy in connection with special counsel probeWashington Post
Manafort, Gates charged with conspiracy against USCNN
Manafort Surrenders To FBI; Indicted In New Phase Of Mueller InquiryNPR
BBC News –NBCNews.com –Chicago Tribune –CNN
all 477 news articles »
READ: Federal grand jury indictment against Manafort, Gates
(CNN) Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump campaign official Rick Gates surrendered Monday to Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter. Read the unsealed …
The charges against two top officials from President Donald Trump’s campaign signals a dramatic new phase of Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and members of Trump’s team as well as potential obstruction of justice and financial crimes.
A White House spokesman told CNN the Trump administration “may not have a response at all” regarding the charges.
Manafort, whose work for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has attracted scrutiny from federal investigators, has previously denied financial wrongdoing regarding his Ukraine-related payments, his bank accounts in offshore tax shelters and his various real-estate transactions over the years. Gates, who has also denied wrongdoing, was Manafort’s longtime business associate in his lobbying firm before being tapped as his deputy on the Trump campaign.
They are the first two officials in Trump’s orbit charged in connection with the special counsel investigation, which is exploring whether Trump’s actions surrounding the firing of former FBI Director James Comey amount to obstruction of justice. Mueller has taken a broad approach to his mandate that includes a focus on the financial dealings of Trump’s team.
Before the indictment, the FBI in July executed a
with guns drawn at Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Virginia, seizing financial and tax documents, including some that had already been provided to congressional investigators.
This story is breaking and will be updated.
CNN’s Joe Johns contributed to this report.
can leave comments on <a href=”http://NYTimes.com” rel=”nofollow”>NYTimes.com</a> without initial moderation. Verified status is earned based on a history of quality comments.
Signed in as mikenova
Share this story on NewsBlur
Shared stories are on their way…
CNN–19 minutes ago
Business Insider–14 minutes ago
HuffPost–16 minutes ago
In-Depth–Newsday–4 minutes ago
Blog–Slate Magazine (blog)–16 hours ago
Workers behind Russian-linked Facebook accounts helped organize or finance real-life events, often working directly with U.S. activists and playing both sides of the same hot-button issues.
WSJ.com: World News
Jared Kushner traveled unannounced to Saudi Arabia
Washington (CNN) Jared Kushner and other senior White House advisers traveled to Saudi Arabia last week to continue discussions on Middle East peace, a White House official told CNN. Deputy national security adviser Dina Powell and Jason Greenblatt, …
Jared Kushner made unannounced trip to Saudi ArabiaABC News
Ivanka Trump, Amid West Wing Conflagration, Celebrates Her Birthday with Surprise DinnerVanity Fair
Maryland AG investigating Kushner real estate business: reportThe Hill (blog)
CNNMoney –Raw Story –Politico –The Times of Israel
all 25 news articles »
How Russia’s fake social media accounts propelled Donald Trump
ThinkProgress, however, analyzed previous reporting to match those eyewitness stories with the specific social media accounts and pages in question, many of them available through caches, to examine the substance of the allegations — to watch the fake …
Key senator wants to see social media companies make 3 changes to election adsCNBC
Russiagate Is More Fiction Than FactThe Nation.
Combating fake news may force big changes at Facebook, TwitterChristian Science Monitor
Bloomberg –Daily Beast –CNN –NBCNews.com
all 220 news articles »
Trump digital director, originally paid $1500 for Trump website, earned $94 million
Parscale, who had done small freelance design projects for Trump’s company since 2011, became the campaign’s digital director, in charge of creating Facebook ads and other social–media advertising. Soon he was overseeing data collection and much of …
Trump’s digital campaign director was paid $1500 to set up his election website. Then he raked in $94 million when …CNBC
’60 Minutes’ profiles the genius who won Trump’s campaign: FacebookWashington Post
Facebook “embeds,” Russia and the Trump campaign’s secret weaponCBS News
New York Post –Inc.com –TheStreet.com
all 51 news articles »
How Digital Inexperience Paid Off in the Trump Campaign
How the hell did team Trump leapfrog team Clinton in the use of social media for campaigning? The answer, I think, dates back to a digital experiment from the 2014 election, and the broader trend toward experimentally-informed campaigns. Facebook was …
How Russian Propaganda Spreads On Social Media : All Tech …
Facebook, Google and Twitter head to Washington this week for their first public congressional hearings on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential …
The great Russia meddling storyline collision has arrivedAxiosall 12 news articles »
If you made a list of the factors that landed Donald Trump in the White House, Trump campaign digital director Brad Parscale would put Facebook near the top. “Facebook now lets you get to places—and places possibly that you would never go with TV ads,” Parscale told CBS earlier this month. “Now, I can find, you know, 15 people in the Florida Panhandle that I would never buy a TV commercial for. And, we took opportunities that I think the other side didn’t.” The relationship with Silicon Valley wasn’t one sided: as major tech companies face mounting criticism for allowing political disinformation to proliferate on their platforms, a new study suggests that employees at Facebook, Google, and Twitter also took on crucial roles within the Trump campaign, acting more like political strategists than on-site salespeople.
The collaboration allowed Team Trump to shore up its digital operations in a way that would have been difficult to accomplish on its own, according to Politico, which got an early look at the study. Embedded tech employees took on responsibilities such as targeting hard-to-reach voters and coming up with responses to probable lines of attack during debates. “Facebook, Twitter, and Google [went] beyond promoting their services and facilitating digital advertising buys,” the peer-reviewed paper concludes. The companies “actively [shaped] campaign communications through their close collaboration with political staffers.”
The Clinton campaign turned down the assistance, which Facebook, Google, and Twitter all offered to 2016 candidates free of charge. (One tech company employee in the study said her campaign “viewed us as vendors rather than consultants.”) The Trump campaign, on the other hand, used the “embeds” extensively during the general election. Ultimately, the work each company did for Trump—Google recommending geographically targeted ads, Twitter analyzing the success of tweet-based fundraising efforts, and Facebook identifying which pictures performed best on Instagram, for instance—helped close the gap between him and Clinton, experts cited in the study conclude.
The collaboration likely proved lucrative for all three companies. Online political-ad spending during the 2016 election totaled $1.4 billion—the Trump campaign spent $70 million on Facebook alone, making client services a valuable extension of Facebook’s ad product. The collaboration also conferred additional benefits, as Politico points out: national exposure, a testing ground for new features and products, and the chance to build a relationship with a candidate who might end up holding the regulatory reins once in office.
In the wake of Trump’s victory, Silicon Valley is facing difficult questions about that symbiotic relationship, and a potential regulatory reckoning. It also underscores a nearly universal truth about how the tech and media industries treated the 2016 presidential race: employees at Facebook and Twitter, among other companies in the overwhelmingly liberal Bay Area, never really expected Trump to win.
The key to Mueller’s investigation of Trump
The Trump campaign’s digital operations were overseen by Kushner. Now corroborating details are emerging. Facebook disclosed that Russian entitites had bought more than 3,000 politically charged ads estimated at $150,000 on its platform during key …
San Antonio Express-News
Parscale tells “60 Minutes” Facebook employees ’embedded’ in …
San Antonio Express-News
President Donald Trump’s digital director Brad Parscale, seen speaking in Kansas in September, will discuss his work for Trump’s campaign on “60 Minutes” on …and more »
House Intel investigation expands to Trump campaign data firm
[Cambridge Analytica] is not under investigation, and there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by the company,” he said. Cambridge Analytica is a U.S. offshoot of its British parent company SCL Group that helped with Trump’s digital operation ahead of …
Carter Page says he will plead the Fifth to Senate Russia investigatorsCNN
Russia Probe Now Investigating Cambridge Analytica, Trump’s ‘Psychographic’ Data GurusDaily Beastall 55 news articles »
How Facebook and Twitter Quietly Helped Trump Win
The collaboration allowed Team Trump to shore up its digital operations in a way that would have been difficult to accomplish on its own, according to Politico, which got an early look at the study. Embedded tech employees took on responsibilities such …
How Facebook, Google and Twitter ’embeds’ helped Trump in 2016Politico
Facebook, Google, Twitter staff aided both US presidential candidates – studyRT
Announcement: RT and Sputnik Advertising – Twitter BlogTwitter Blog
Office of the Director of National Intelligence –Twitter Blog –RT
all 402 news articles »
Scrutiny mounts for Trump digital operation
Scrutiny on the digital side of President Trump’s 2016 campaign is mounting after revelations that the head of Cambridge Analytica, a data mining and analysis firm that worked for the campaign, contacted WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange about Democratic …
Trump campaign analytics company contacted WikiLeaks about Clinton emailsCNN
Democrats Believe an American Company Aided Russian Meddling in the ElectionNewsweek
What Did Cambridge Analytica Really Do for Trump’s Campaign?WIRED
Daily Beast –Daily Beast –CNN
all 149 news articles »
Newsweek–Oct 27, 2017
Highly Cited–CNN–Oct 25, 2017
In-Depth–WIRED–Oct 26, 2017
RT–Oct 27, 2017
In-Depth–Politico–Oct 26, 2017
New York Times
Russia Uses Its Oil Giant, Rosneft, as a Foreign Policy Tool
New York Times
The company, which Russia has long relied on to finance its government and social programs, has been pushing deeply into politically sensitive countries like Cuba, China, Egypt and Vietnam, as well as tumultuous places where American interests are at …