Political “earthquake”

New names in special counsel Mueller’s investigation of the Manafort case

Recently FBI Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III brought new charges against Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign’s manager in summer 2016 and in summer 2012 secretly paid former leading European politicians for lobbying of Ukraine’s Russia-aligned government.

The AP news agency reports that the charges are based on the testimony provided by Manafort’s former assistant Rick Gates. In particular, the FBI is charging Manafort with using foreign bank accounts for paying 2 million to former European politicians for lobbying of the interests of Ukraine’s Russia-aligned government.

It is reported that the political figures known as the Habsburg group were considered to be independent analysts, however, their services were ordered by the lobbyists. According to the information provided by the mass media, the hidden lobbying was taking place in the US. The indictment concludes that a former European chancellor was at the head of the group.

Apparently, the top interest of the investigators are Manafort’s liaisons with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, from whom Trump’s advisor received big sum, amounting, according to some data, to 100 million dollars, for the lobbying of Russia’s interests. In particular, as the manager of Trump’s election campaign, Manafort offered to Deripaska to share information, arranging “private briefings” on some “interesting questions” that haven’t been established so far.

It will be reminded that on October 30, 2017 Paul Manafort and Richard Gates faced charges that consisted of 12 points and included hindering the activity of the US governmental establishments, money laundering, evading taxes, swindling, and lobbying the interests of an unregistered foreign establishment, which is a crime in the US.

The prosecutors assert that over 75 million dollars were moved through the offshore accounts that Manafort controlled. According to the accusations, with Gates’ help he laundered over 30 million dollars of income which he shielded from the US Department of Treasury and US Department of Justice. In his turn, Gates hid about three million of income.

“Manafort and Gates received tens of millions dollars of income from their work in Ukraine,” is the summary of the indictment.

Manafort is the central figure in the investigation held by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III on the possible conspiracy between Donald Trump’s team and Russia, in particular, through Manafort’s numerous connections with Russians and his cooperation with Ukraine’s ex-president Viktor Yanukovych.

Former advisor in Nixon’s Presidential Administration John Dean wrote on his Twitter page that “Mueller is throwing everything he can against Manafort, including Gates who can nail him. Increasingly it appears Manafort is the link to Russian collusion. If Gates can testify that Manafort was acting with Trump’s blessings, it’s the end of his presidency. That’s substantial.”

Meanwhile, the website www.dailykos.com concludes that “Putin wanted Trump elected to reverse sanctions and allow him to not only make a fortune but to further infiltrate the country. Manafort was only too happy to sell us out to the Russians and if it can be proven Trump was as well – if that’s not a working definition of treason, what is?”

It should be noted that more and more names are emerging in special counsel Mueller’s investigation into Manafort’s activities. In particular, US Department of Justice files, emails obtained by The Financial Times, and interviews with the people involved in the investigation show that Romano Prodi, the former Italian prime minister and European Commission president, Alfred Gusenbauer, the former Austrian chancellor, and Aleksander Kwasniewski, Poland’s former president (1995-2005) “took part in meetings with members of the US Congress in 2013 on behalf of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a Brussels-based group that US prosecutors allege was at the centre of Mr. Manafort’s secret lobbying scheme.”

The Day asked the head of the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, former US ambassador to Ukraine John HERBST to comment on the most recent charges against Manafort and tell about their possible consequences for US President Donald Trump.

“If Gates testifies against Manafort, Manafort’s legal vulnerability grows. Stories about Manafort’s connections to Deripaska put the Trump campaign closer to the Kremlin. The key question is whether there is evidence of Trump himself in some sense working with or benefitting knowingly from Kremlin support. But there are now stories of possible contacts or efforts to establish contacts between Deripaska and Democratic Senator Warner.”