Republicans and the Trump White House have been downplaying the indictment of Paul Manafort and claiming that it contained no Russia or collusion connection, but Rachel Maddow used newly released court documents to blow that defense to bits.
Maddow said, “This is the special counsel going on record in court filings saying Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were paid millions of dollars by Russian oligarchs. And I may be wrong about this, but I think this is also the first official representation by the government that Manafort’s business was staffed up in Moscow.”
Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at Monday’s White House Daily Briefing that the Manafort indictment had nothing to do with Trump campaign activities, “But look, today’s announcement has nothing to do with the President, has nothing to do with the President’s campaign or campaign activity. The real collusion scandal, as we’ve said several times before, has everything to do with the Clinton campaign, Fusion GPS, and Russia.”
If Paul Manafort business was based in Russia, and he was being paid by Russian oligarchs, then the decisions that he made while running the campaign were directly related to the Trump campaign’s activities. Manafort was still in business while he was involved with the Trump campaign. This little fact means that the only excuse that Trump had to try to explain away the Manafort indictment was destroyed.
The government has linked Manafort and Russia, which means that they have by extension linked the Trump campaign and Russia. The tax returns will connect the dots, but as Maddow highlighted the Manafort/Russia connection is a big deal that draws the roadmap for Trump/Russia collusion.