We already know that the Trump regime knew Mike Flynn was under FBI investigation for being a representative of a foreign government when he was hired by Trump as National Security Adviser, today we find out that, as long expected, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort remained in contact with Trump months after being fired for his Kremlin ties.
Months after the FBI began examining Paul Manafort as part of a probe into ties between President Donald Trump’s team and Russia, Manafort called Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus to push back against the mounting controversy, according to four people familiar with the call.
It was about a week before Trump’s inauguration, and Manafort wanted to brief Trump’s team on the alleged inaccuracies in a recently released dossier of memos written by a former British spy for Trump’s opponents that alleged compromising ties between Russia, Trump and Trump’s associates, including Manafort.
“On the day that the dossier came out in the press, Paul called Reince, as a responsible ally of the president would do, and said this story about me is garbage, and a bunch of the other stuff in there seems implausible,” said a person close to Manafort.
Manafort had been forced to resign as Trump’s campaign chairman five months earlier amid scrutiny of his work for Kremlin-aligned politicians and businessmen in Eastern Europe. But he had continued talking to various members of Trump’s team, and had even had at least two conversations with Trump, according to people close to Manafort or Trump.
While the people say the conversations were mostly of a political or, in some cases, personal nature, the conversation with Priebus, described by four people familiar with it, was related to the scandal now subsuming Manafort and the Trump presidency.
It suggests that Manafort recognized months ago the potentially serious problems posed by the investigation, even as Trump himself continues to publicly dismiss it as a politically motivated witch hunt, while predicting it won’t find anything compromising.
The discussion also could provide fodder for an expanding line of inquiry for both the FBI and congressional investigators. They’ve increasingly focused on the Trump team’s handling of the investigations, including evolving explanations from the White House, and the president’s unsuccessful efforts to get the FBI to drop part of the investigation, followed by his firing of FBI director James Comey. All that has led to claims that the president and his team may have opened themselves to obstruction of justice charges.
It wasn't the Watergate hotel break-in itself that sunk Nixon, but the increasingly stupid and paranoid efforts to cover it up that ended his presidency. Understand that since Manafort and Flynn remain under investigation and have for months now before Trump's inauguration, that these phone conversations in January have almost certainly been recorded as evidence in that investigation.
In other words, it's looking pretty bad for Trump and everyone involved with him. And that's just the cover-up angle. The money laundering is separate and could take down Trump too.
He is facing both.
By the way, there's reason to believe that Reince Preibus might be the next domino to fall in this mess. As White House Chief of Staff, he would have had contact with all the players in this little game: Flynn, Manafort, Carter Page, Jared Kushner, and of course Trump himself. James Comey talked to Priebus in February, and Comey's notes on that conversation might be the nail in his coffin as well.
Of course if it isn't Priebus, it might be Jeff Sessions who's in trouble now, as he's facing new questions about lying about his contacts with our friends in Moscow on his security clearance paperwork.
It's going to get crowded in the dock soon, I would think.