Saturday, August 20, 2016

Paul Manafort's Disturbing Ties to Putin

That is how the Clinton team describes it.

"In response to the Trump campaign’s ouster of chairman Paul Manafort, the Hillary Clinton campaign is demanding that the Republican nominee discloses his Kremlin ties to US voters."

"In a statement, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said:

"Paul Manafort’s resignation is a clear admission that the disturbing connections between Donald Trump’s team and pro-Kremlin elements in Russia and Ukraine are untenable. But this is not the end of the story. It’s just the beginning. You can get rid of Manafort, but that doesn’t end the odd bromance Trump has with Putin. Trump still has to answer serious questions hovering over his campaign given his propensity to parrot Putin’s talking points, the roster of advisers like Carter Page and Mike Flynn with deep ties to Russia, the recent Russian government hacking and disclosure of Democratic Party records, and reports that Breitbart published articles advocating pro-Kremlin positions on Ukraine. It’s also time for Donald Trump to come clean on his own business dealings with Russian interests, given recent news reports about his web of deep financial connections to business groups with Kremlin ties."

"The Trump/Putin love fest is going to continue to be an issue in the presidential campaign, especially because Donald Trump refuses to admit that he has business interests in Russia and Ukraine. If the Trump campaign thought that pushing Manafort out the door, which is what they did, would solve their problems, they are badly mistaken."

"There is more than a little bit of smoke surrounding Donald Trump and Putin. The Trump campaign is still loaded with staff who have ties to Russia. Paul Manafort’s departure does nothing to answer the serious questions about the Republican nominee’s relationship with Putin."

One way in which Manafort's ouster doesn't end the issue is that the pro Putin language in the Republican platform remains which was apparently influenced by Manafort.

Then the question begs: What does Trump know about Manafort's ties, and when did he know it?

"In this light, though, it's clear that Trump wants you to believe that he did not know anything about what was going on with Paul Manafort's allegedly shady allegations in Russia/Ukraine. He is shocked - SHOCKED - to find that gambling is going on in here!"

"It seems likely, in light of this information, that the Trump campaign believes that the fit is about to hit the shan where Manafort is concerned and would like to be clear of the blast radius. According to Rosie Gray, the Podesta Group has lawyered up in connection with this scandal, so it seems pretty likely that some initial phone calls have already been made from DOJ offices to set up some initial interviews."

"If true, the best possible defense for Trump, politically speaking, is that he didn't know any of this when he hired Manafort. The main problem with this defense is that it suggests that Trump did literally no vetting of Manafort before hiring him to fill a very key role in his campaign. I can say this because when Manafort's name was first mentioned in connection with the Trump campaign, I typed his name into Google and the first page of results was littered with the stories alleging his ties with the Russian mob and his unsavory activities in and connected with Ukraine."

"While this explanation is certainly better than the one that suggests that he knowingly hired a campaign manager who was possibly compromised by Russian interests, it doesn't really speak well of his ability to perform competent diligence for any of his possible political appointments."

"Or, for that matter, Supreme Court Judges."

So while him knowing about the ties all along is very bad, not knowing about the ties is pretty bad as well. Sort of like whether Chris Christie knew about Bridgegate or not.

Then there's Paul Manafort who is now being investigated by the FBI.
"Inside the fall of Paul Manafort"

"Donald Trump’s campaign chairman thought he could weather the scrutiny of his lucrative foreign political consulting. He was wrong."

"Earlier this month, Paul Manafort met with Donald Trump and suggested that they put in place a succession plan for the upper ranks of the Republican nominee’s flailing presidential campaign, according to three campaign sources with direct knowledge of the events that led to Manafort’s resignation on Friday morning as campaign chairman."

"Trump was in the midst of a string of self-inflicted controversies that were starting to resonate in polls showing him slipping further behind Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, and Manafort warned his boss that things were about to get worse."

"The stories, Manafort argued to Trump, were being coordinated by Clinton’s allies, and they were going to continue for the remainder of the election cycle as long as Manafort remained at the helm.

“This is going to be a distraction, and I don’t want to be a distraction for the campaign,” Manafort told Trump, according to a campaign official briefed on the meeting. The official said Manafort, with Trump’s blessing, “started putting a plan in place” for succession “because he knew exactly what was going to happen, and he didn’t want to leave Trump without any leadership. He’s been around politics long enough to know that you need to have a Plan B and a Plan C.”

Read more:

So this would suggest Manafort's Putin ties are what forced him out.

"Although Manafort told associates that he thought he would be able to weather the controversy, his meeting with Trump nonetheless sparked internal discussions about changes to the campaign’s senior management structure. They included elevating pollster Kellyanne Conway, who had been brought onto the campaign last month, into a more senior role, and also officially bringing on Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon, who had been informally advising people around the campaign for months."

Read more:

In this sense, Bannon and Conway aren't so much additions as they are just being given more formal titles.

"Still, Manafort associates said, he hoped he could ride out the storm and remain with the campaign until the end. That’s despite what the associates characterize as Manafort’s growing frustration with Trump’s unwillingness to embrace advice for a more scripted, measured tone and a greater reliance on more traditional campaign tactics."

Read more:

No doubt there was this stylistic difference between him and Trump. While Manafort no doubt as most people do attributed Trump's tanking in the polls to his failure to pivot, Trump saw it as proof he's pivoted too much.

"But it quickly became clear that the controversies around Manafort’s Ukraine work were going to be even worse than he had anticipated."

Read more:

A lot of that was caused by Trump himself. Like after he started 'joking' about Putin hacking Hillary's emails, this led to a lot more commentary and scrutiny into the ties of Trump and his campaign with Russia and Manafort was at the top of that list-though he's not the only one with deep ties on the Trump campaign.

"On Sunday night, The New York Times published the first of the stories that had Manafort worried — revealing that Ukrainian investigators were looking into a “secret ledger” that listed $12.7 million in cash payments earmarked for Manafort by the party of the deposed former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych."

"A little more than two days later, in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, news broke that Trump was bringing on Conway as campaign manager and Bannon as the campaign’s chief executive, a newly created role for a conservative media firebrand with no previous campaign experience."

"Campaign sources publicly played down talk that the moves represented a shakeup or a demotion for Manafort, whom they said would remain on as campaign chairman. But behind the scenes, the campaign was bracing for the next round of damaging stories about his work in Ukraine."

"Sure enough, later that day, The Associated Press reported that Manafort and his longtime deputy Rick Gates (who had followed Manafort onto the Trump campaign) had in 2012 secretly steered $2.2 million to a pair of Washington lobbying firms to boost Yanukovych’s pro-Kremlin government in a manner intended to circumvent disclosure requirements."

"The story was followed in short order by a POLITICO investigation revealing that Manafort and Gates — working with a former Russian army linguist allegedly linked to the country’s intelligence service — had continued through late last year to advise the Russia-friendly Ukrainian party that arose from the ashes of Yanukovych’s government."

"Manafort pushed back on the stories one by one, denying to the Times that he received the $12.7 million in cash, defending the legality of the lobbying arrangement exposed by the AP, and insisting to POLITICO that he “had no contract and did no business after [the] 2014 elections” in Ukraine."

"But Trump’s adult children and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who have a significant hand in almost every major personnel and strategic decision, were concluding that the distractions were outweighing the benefit of keeping Manafort on board, according to campaign sources."

"They had pushed to elevate Conway to campaign manager, in part, because Ivanka Trump believed the campaign was too much of an all-boys club to begin with, sources said. Also, she liked the way Conway was able to manage her father."

"In addition to wanting Conway to have more of a leadership role, the family also felt that Manafort hadn’t been completely forthright about his international political consulting, a source close to the campaign said. Family members also were unhappy about changes made to a GOP platform provision that were seen as slighting Ukraine to Russia’s benefit, which they felt Manafort played a role in, the source added."

A Manafort associate disputed that characterization, saying that Trump generally accepted Manafort’s explanations that the stories revealed no wrongdoing and were ginned up by Clinton’s allies, according to two Manafort associates. But the Manafort associates acknowledged that the drumbeat of tough stories was nonetheless causing concern among Trump’s inner circle, because they were distracting from the candidate’s efforts to project a new, more self-aware — and less confrontational — image.

“Trump would call this stuff bullshit, and I think based on what I would have seen over the last couple of weeks, he would have stuck with Paul,” said the campaign official briefed on Trump’s succession-plan meeting with Manafort. “But he was worried about it from a distraction point of view.”

"Manafort came to accept the reality that he would need to leave the campaign, and leave it quickly, despite signaling to other senior campaign leaders earlier that he had intended to make a gradual departure, if necessary, said his associates."

"And so, on Friday morning, the campaign made it official, releasing a statement from Trump accepting Manafort’s resignation."

Read more:

In light of all this, Hillary's team demands that Trump put all his Kremlin ties on the table.

"In response to the Trump campaign's ouster of chairman Paul Manafort, the Hillary Clinton campaign is demanding that the Republican nominee discloses his Kremlin ties to US voters."

1 comment:

  1. You're an atheist? Cool. Change comes to everyone, for 1-outta-1 totally croaks, brudda. God bless you