Paul Manafort somehow managed to get himself in even more trouble with unnamed Ukrainians and a shady Russian.
Even after pleading guilty to conspiring against the United States, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort just couldn't help himself. He had to get cash. He had to keep working. So he did, likely for the same type of people he’s worked with before: dictators, pro-Russian Ukrainian strongmen, and shady Russian billionaires.
Somehow Manafort managed to do work on behalf of Ukraine during 2018, a year in which he spent most of the time either on house arrest or in jail. It's fairly inventive, but it also landed him something he probably didn't expect: a brand new indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller's office.
The prosecutors said that the new charges, and Manafort's overall pattern of deception, goes "very much to the heart of what the special counsel's office is investigating." Which could also spell trouble for Trump.
In laying out their case for the new charges, prosecutors told the judge what a spectacular amount of lying Manafort had done in the past:
The defendant coming into this had lied to the Department of Justice, had lied to banks, had lied to his own defense counsel, had violated court orders, had lied to his tax preparers, had lied to his bookkeepers. In other words, there were so many lies.
There's also a tantalizing reference in the hearing transcript, which lays out prosecutors' rationale for the additional charges, to a "backdoor" related to Ukraine. It appears that Manafort was working for a political client in Ukraine, as there are also references to polling.
This new indictment is in addition to Manafort's past convictions and his guilty plea.
Back in August 2018, Manafort was convicted of eight counts of tax fraud and bank fraud, related to the millions of dollars he earned — and hid — doing lobbying work for the likes of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.
Then shortly after he was convicted, Manafort pleaded guilty to an additional two felony counts and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel.
Except he didn't really cooperate. He lied to the special counsel and basically tanked his own cooperation agreement with the government.
Now, he's gone even further and gotten himself indicted again.
These new charges are also related to Manafort's work in Ukraine. It isn't clear who the Ukrainian client was in this instance, but it is somehow all tangled up with Konstantin Kilimnik. Kilimnik is a longtime associate of Manafort who is also, according to the FBI, connected with Russian intelligence.
Back in June 2018, Kilimnik and Manafort were both charged with obstructing justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice by using intimidation or force against a witness, and tampering with a witness, victim or informant.
This time around, the special counsel alleges Manafort lied to prosecutors about the scope of his discussions with Kilimnik. Manafort talked with Kilimnik August 2, 2016. That's when Manafort was still Trump's campaign chair. They continued to talk all the way through 2018.
The transcript doesn't explain how Manafort managed to do all this while behind bars or confined to house arrest.
Manafort is facing new charges just as Trump is facing more investigations in Congress — and the walls are closing in on both of them.
Published with permission of The American Independent.