Monday, August 15, 2016

The Con Man's Con Man

What makes Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort uniquely qualified to run the con job of a campaign that he's running today? Apparently, the answer is that Manafort is a master grifter who helped loot millions and buy elections in Ukraine at his previous job for Victor Yanukovich.

Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.

In addition, criminal prosecutors are investigating a group of offshore shell companies that helped members of Mr. Yanukovych’s inner circle finance their lavish lifestyles, including a palatial presidential residencewith a private zoo, golf course and tennis court. Among the hundreds of murky transactions these companies engaged in was an $18 million deal to sell Ukrainian cable television assets to a partnership put together by Mr. Manafort and a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin.

Mr. Manafort’s involvement with moneyed interests in Russia and Ukraine had previously come to light. But as American relationships there become a rising issue in the presidential campaign — from Mr. Trump’s favorable statements about Mr. Putin and his annexation of Crimea to the suspected Russian hacking of Democrats’ emails — an examination of Mr. Manafort’s activities offers new details of how he mixed politics and business out of public view and benefited from powerful interests now under scrutiny by the new government in Kiev.

Anti-corruption officials there say the payments earmarked for Mr. Manafort, previously unreported, are a focus of their investigation, though they have yet to determine if he actually received the cash. While Mr. Manafort is not a target in the separate inquiry of offshore activities, prosecutors say he must have realized the implications of his financial dealings.

“He understood what was happening in Ukraine,” said Vitaliy Kasko, a former senior official with the general prosecutor’s office in Kiev. “It would have to be clear to any reasonable person that the Yanukovych clan, when it came to power, was engaged in corruption.”

Mr. Kasko added, “It’s impossible to imagine a person would look at this and think, ‘Everything is all right.’”

Paul Manafort definitely has a history of helping pro-Putin dictators win elections by cleaning up their messes and influencing the vote and apparently he was paid very handsomely to do it, far more than was previously reported.

Now he's helping Donald Trump, who loves him some Vlad the Dudesplainer.  In other words, the guy screaming about rigged elections has a campaign manager that rigs elections.

So where's the $12 million, Paul? And how much are you taking from Putin now?  Suddenly several news outlets are focusing on Manafort and with good reason.  Supposedly more stories on Trump's campaign manager and his dealings with Putin are on the way, folks.

Buckle up.  It's about to get nasty.

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