Manafort Returns As Trump Preps for New Crime Spree

Manafort Returns As Trump Preps for New Crime Spree
Manafort Returns As Trump Preps for New Crime Spree
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Almost eight years ago, Paul Manafort was forced to resign as Donald Trump’s campaign manager. Manafort’s resignation was forced owing to revelations about his work on behalf of pro-Russian oligarchs trying to maintain control of Ukraine, work “which was fundamentally at odds with Trump’s boasts about being free from moneyed interests,” reported Politico at the time.

In the intervening time since his resignation, Manafort was convicted of several financial crimes, served a prison sentence, was pardoned by Trump, and deemed a “grave counterintelligence threat” by a bipartisan report from the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Trump plans to bring Manafort back to a second Trump administration. In short, a man who was considered too sleazy to work for Trump in 2017 is cleared to work for him in 2025, despite the fact that every source of ethical and legal concern about his fitness has compounded.

As he did the last time around, Manafort reportedly plans to offer his services to Trump for free. His work for Trump is a loss-leader for Manafort’s revenue-generating business of selling political access to overseas leaders, usually ones with appalling records on democracy and human rights. The Washington Mail discovers Manafort is working on a deal in China that “has the endorsement of the Chinese government.” Following this report, Manafort stepped down from his role in Trump’s campaign, saying “However, it is clear that the media wants to use me as a distraction to try and harm President Trump and his campaign by recycling old news,” but has notably said nothing about refusing a job in a prospective second Trump administration.

Obviously, this arrangement violates several Trump promises: to be free of special-interest influence, to promote “America First” nationalism in general, and to maintain a hawkish stance against China in particular. Add all this to Manafort’s criminal record and you might wonder why Trump would bring him on.

The answer is that he is being hired because of his criminal record. “Advisers say Trump is determined to hire Manafort, likely handing him a substantial role at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, because he appreciates that his onetime campaign chairman has remained loyal to him even while serving in prison,” reports the Mail.

The Russia investigation used to symbolize the idea that law enforcement posed a serious risk to Trump’s power. The past eight years, and especially the past few months, have rendered that old notion painfully outdated and naive.

As was illustrated by the Manafort case, along with that of Roger Stone, it turns out to be extremely difficult to prosecute a traditional conspiracy case when the boss has the ability to pardon his subordinates. (You’ll never get a capo to flip on the boss if the boss can make a prison sentence disappear with the stroke of a pen.) More recently, Trump has managed to run out the clock on the most serious criminal cases he faces, leaving only the Manhattan case about falsifying business records — by far the least serious charge — before the election.

If Trump wins the election, he will no doubt quash the cases against himself. He will probably carry out his promises to pardon some or all of the insurrectionists in prison. He will make concrete his belief that the president must enjoy “total immunity” from the law, at least if the president is him.

And what will Trump do then? Well, in all probability, he will do what he has done his entire adult life: commit crimes.

The article is in Norwegian

Tags: Manafort Returns Trump Preps Crime Spree

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