Politics is a web of complicated ties and in most cases, deals are made that always cause people to doubt the true intent of such actions. Paul Manafort in 2016 was a man whose world fell apart after his rehab experience and extramarital scandal, but one step he took changed everything. He volunteered to serve on United States President Donald Trump’s campaign team as an unpaid member.
As selfless as his intentions may seem, Manafort was convicted on charges of bank and tax fraud. It is also linked to Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential elections, alongside bleak relations with Ukraine. Keep reading to get all the details on this story.
Paul Manafort and the Trump campaign
In March 2016, Paul Manafort joined the Trump campaign shortly before the Republican National Convention that was to be held in Ohio to pave the way for Trump, then aspiring to the presidency. Known for his expertise in Republican politics, Manafort was named campaign chairman in just two months. However, his appointment was questionable given his bankrupt status at the time. Among other things, it has been clarified that his being in charge of directing the President’s election activities has opened him up to corrupt objectives that could seduce him.
As expected, in August 2016 it was announced that Manafort had stepped down from the campaign after receiving his position on Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway following the illegal receipt of approximately $12 million from Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Connection with Ukraine and Russia
Prior to joining the Trump campaign team, Paul Manafort had worked as a consultant for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych; he was instrumental in his victory in the 2010 presidential election. However, in 2014 he had to leave the seat following a massive protest in the country against his close ties with Russia, which caused forced Ukraine to back out of an agreement that would have brought them closer to the West.
Yanukovych even had to seek refuge in Russiathe demonstration turned bloody. There was also an incident in which security guards had to shoot protesters; this further complicated the crisis and Manafort was caught in the middle of it all. He was considered guilty for advising the former president to order an open fire causing many innocent victims.
Paul Manafort is known to have ties to Russia that date back as far as he started working for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. Manafort’s right-hand man, Konstantin Kilimnik, head of his kyiv office, was reportedly a Russian spy for Special Agent Paul Muller. Although Kilimnik denied the charges, sources still believe he used to pass on information during the 2014 Ukraine crisis between the United States government and the Russian government.
Manafort is also linked to the issue of Trump’s collision with Russia in an attempt to influence the 2016 election. He was one of the people who attended the meeting at Trump Tower with the Russian delegates. As claimed, the essence of the meeting was to obtain information that would tarnish Hillary Clinton, the image of the Democratic presidential hopeful.
Paul Manafort V Robert Mueller – Ongoing Investigations
Paul Manafort has been under investigation since 2014 for his association with Ukraine by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who had also brought charges against him over alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
Muller is said to have evidence ranging from emails, bank statements and about 35 people called to testify against Manafort, including Rick Gates, his alleged partner in crime. In February 2018, Mueller brought new allegations against Manafort regarding tax evasion and bank fraud, in the amount of $30 million he allegedly laundered with offshore accounts.
He also sued the consultant for hiring former European politicians to lobby for Ukraine. Manafort was not initially found guilty, as the jury found that Muller was only pulling those strings in order to obtain information from the consultant that could implicate Trump. But in August 2018, Mueller scored his first victory as Manafort was convicted on 8 counts of tax evasion and bank fraud. However, no charges regarding Russian collusion have been brought against him. Manafort still maintains that he is innocent.