A Democratic lawmaker threw down the gauntlet Wednesday, challenging his Republican colleagues to do the right thing by saying that former Chairman of the Trump campaign Paul Manafort needs to be subpoenaed, “Our investigation will not be complete if he (Manafort) does not testify, so he should be subpoenaed.”
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 22, 2017
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) told MSNBC, “The dots continue to connect around Paul Manafort and his ties to Russia, and we see that it’s not the just the deep personal, political, and financial ties that Donald Trump and his team has with Russia. We want to now know did these ties extend to helping Russia during the interference campaign, and are we now seeing dramatic changes in foreign policy towards Russia because we owe Russia something?”
Swalwell said about Manafort testifying before Congress, “Our investigation will not be complete if he does not testify, so he should be subpoenaed.”
Manafort left the Trump campaign in August of 2016 due to Russian smoke surrounding undisclosed cash payments from a pro-Russian political party. The New York Times reported at the time, “Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.”
Things got worse for Manafort on Monday when the Ukraine released documents that showed that Manafort attempted to hide payments from former President Viktor F. Yanukovych.
The New York Times reported, “On Monday, the intrigue took another turn, when a member of Parliament in Ukraine released documents that he said showed that Mr. Manafort took steps to hide the payments, which were tied to Mr. Manafort’s work for former President Viktor F. Yanukovych. The documents included an invoice that appeared to show $750,000 funneled through an offshore account and disguised as payment for computers.”
Of course no legitimate investigation into the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia would be remotely serious without Paul Manafort testifying.
And that’s probably why Republicans will try to avoid calling Manafort. All of the GOP speed bumps are in place to protect, enable, and assist Donald Trump with his possible Russian collusion — an issue that is not dead and gone just because Russia interfered in our election.
Oh, no. Russia is just getting warmed up, and Donald Trump was the stooge they felt best suited their ultimate goal of undermining western democracy.
The only question left is did the Trump campaign collude with Russia to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election. And the answer to that question seems to be in plain sight, as I keep saying. On February 13th, I published a piece about Trump publicly conspiring with Putin because on December 30, the day after President Obama retaliated for Moscow’s interference in the U.S. election, Trump praised Putin for his delay in reacting to the sanctions. Another example would be Donald Trump asked Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails in public.
There might not be a secret smoking gun. But the circumstantial evidence is indisputably damning in and of itself.
Of course Paul Manafort should be compelled to testify. If Republicans don’t take this step, it will be another justification for an independent investigation, done without Republican gatekeepers who have something of their own career at stake due to their own involvement with the Trump campaign.
This is yet another step forward in a process that while frustratingly slow, is actually happening at warp speed compared to previous scandals.
Image: Screen cap from MSNBC
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Sarah is two-time Telly award winning video producer and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.