The New York Times is reporting today that two of Paul Manafort’s closest associates turned on him and gave evidence to Robert Mueller leading to the special counsel filing new charges of witness tampering against President Trump‘s former campaign chairman.
The associates are veteran journalists who had previously worked with Manafort in the Ukraine, where they had extensive and lucrative client relationships with the leaders there who had close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to the Times, the journalists helped Manafort with important consulting and lobbying work he had been hired to do while attempting to help save the reputation of former Putin friend Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.
The work in question was funded by Manafort with a $2.4 million transfer of funds from a foreign bank account, according to the Times.
It is not known what caused the two journalists and former business associates to turn on Manafort. It is known, however, that because they did turn against their former associate Mueller had the evidence he needed to file the new charges of witness tampering against him.
Normally what happens in these situations is that the prosecutors confront potential witnesses with evidence showing them that they can also be charged with crimes. In order to avoid their own jail time they often “flip” and agree to give testimony in exchange for the lenient treatment. That is probably what happened here, according to reports.
The journalists reportedly told Mueller that starting in February they were contacted by Manafort who in various ways attempted to influence what they told the special counsel. The charges filed by Mueller said that Manafort was trying to cover up the illegal work he had done in the Ukraine, and had attempted to coerce witnesses to change their testimony to support the lies he had been telling Mueller‘s team.
The work in the Ukraine was the subject of several of the indictments issued by Mueller against Manafort last fall. The charges included tax fraud, bank fraud and money laundering, among other things. Manafort has so far pleaded innocent to all charges, although there is speculation that with the latest witness tampering charges this may change. Many believe he will “flip” soon and cooperate with the prosecutors in their investigation of Donald Trump‘s alleged crimes.
Manafort has to appear in court Friday and the judge will decide whether or not to revoke his bail and force him to spend the time remaining until his criminal trials are over in jail instead of in his plush home in Virginia.
With two of his former “friends” and business associates now turning against him, things are not looking good for Paul Manafort, and it appears increasingly likely that justice will be served and he will get what he deserves.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.