The sword of Manafort

The sword of Manafort

by digby

Paul Waldman points out why the Manafort trial has Trump so agitated:

we’re talking about someone whose major client was a corrupt Ukrainian politician with close ties to the Kremlin. Who was allegedly millions of dollars in debt to a dangerous Russian oligarch. Who even in the sometimes-sketchy world of Washington lobbying was long known for being utterly devoid of ethics or morals. And who offered to work for free. Despite all these red flags, Trump has been trying to argue both that it was perfectly reasonable for him to hire Manafort because he had worked for other Republicans in the past and that he had almost nothing to do with him. Here’s what he said about him a few weeks ago:

“You know, Paul Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time,” Trump said, before ticking off other Republican presidential nominees with whom Manafort has been affiliated. “He worked for Ronald Reagan, he worked for Bob Dole, he worked for John McCain or his firm did. He worked for many other Republicans. He worked for me for what? For 49 days or something? A very short period of time.”
In fact, Manafort served 144 days as Trump’s campaign chairman.

Not only that, Trump and Manafort go way back. When Manafort and his partners, including longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, set up their consulting firm in the 1980s, their first client was none other than Donald Trump. And let’s just say both of them have reportedly spent time interacting with the world of Russian oligarchs and mobsters.

But Trump’s real fear is not so much that a Manafort conviction on charges like tax fraud will reflect specifically on him, but that it will go a long way in the public’s mind to validate the Mueller investigation. You could argue that it’s already more than validated, given that Mueller has gotten guilty pleas from multiple Trump aides (Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos) and indicted dozens of people on charges related to Russian meddling. But a conviction of Trump’s campaign chairman, even if it’s on charges related to what he was doing before he joined the campaign, will make it even harder than it is now to claim that the investigation should never have begun in the first place and should be shut down immediately. Or as he said Thursday, “Now we’re being hindered by the Russian hoax. It’s a hoax, okay? I’ll tell you what, Russia’s very unhappy that Trump won, that I can tell you.”

And that — the investigation completing its work and putting everything it has learned before the public, both in the courtroom and in some kind of report that winds up getting released publicly — is what has Trump so worried.

Manafort was Trump's campaign chairman. In any normal administration this alone would be considered a major scandal.