Russiagate refuses to lay down and die just yet.
Even as President Trump begins to more openly discuss the need to bring Russia back into the G8 nations and as he discusses feeling vindicated by the Justice Department’s Inspector General report on the Hillary Clinton / FBI e-mail probe, Paul Manafort had his bail revoked by a federal judge. He is now to be sent to jail while awaiting separate trials on money laundering and fraud charges. These charges followed allegations that he sought to obstruct the Russia inquiry whilst being under house arrest.
This report, run on USA today’s site and echoed across the American mainstream press, appears to be the latest counterpunch in the bizarre Russiagate investigation that has still, as yet, provided NO indication of any sort of collusion between the Russian Federation and the Trump campaign to “interfere” or “meddle” with the American Presidential election of 2016.
Paul Manfort has been taking beating after beating though. This is not because of his activity in any sort of collusion with Russian agencies, but because he allegedly was involved in a very large money laundering and fraud conspiracy in Ukraine. In fact, he has five counts charged against him:
“The five previously charged counts against Manfort remain unchanged: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA [Foreign Agent Registration Act] statements, and false statements,” the special counsel’s spokesman said in a statement last week.
While these actions, if proven true, would indeed be criminal activities deserving of a penalty like incarceration, they nevertheless have no connection to the original scope of the Russiagate investigation into election interference. One is simply not the other.
But to the press, this does not matter. This in fact appears to be the plan with Russiagate, that its unlimited scope is able to dig up an occasional crime that can be associated, however loosely, with the seriousness of the original charge.
Mr. Manafort had been free on bail awaiting trial when federal prosecutors representing Mr. Mueller and Mr. Manfort’s own attorneys met in court and clashed, with the Mueller team charging Paul Manafort and Russian business associate Konstantin Kilimnik with being involved in a scheme to tamper with two witnesses in the existing case that has been brought already against Mr. Manafort:
“The danger is that Mr. Manafort will continue to commit crimes,” prosecutor Greg Andres told the judge.
Prosecutors asserted that that the alleged obstruction effort, in which Manafort and Kilimnik sought to coach the testimony of the two un-identified witnesses, should trigger the revocation of Manafort’s bail, sending him to jail to await a July trial in Alexandria, Va.
These new charges were brought last week, and the investigators have alleged that “repeated contacts” occurred while Manafort was living at home under house arrest which had been originally gained as a condition of his release.
Fox News reported that Federal District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sent Mr. Manafort to jail on Friday, revoking the conditions of his $10 million bail. He is to remain in jail until the trials begin in August and September of this year. (The USA Today article reports the first of these trials to begin in July.)
Nevertheless, an unemotional Manafort simply pleaded “not guilty” to these charges.
“Mr. Manafort is innocent and nothing about the latest allegation changes our defense,” spokesman Jason Maloni said. “We will do our talking in court.”
As for Konstantin Kilimnik, he is in Moscow reportedly and no action is, or is expected to be, taken that could impact him since he is not in the US jurisdiction.
The timing for this action may not be deliberate at all, but given the history and strange nature of the Mueller investigation, it certainly does give the appearance of trying to keep the RussiaGate narrative alive at all costs, possibly due to the President’s stated intention to meet with President Vladimir Putin to see, among other things, about getting Russia back into the G8 nations.
The Deep State assault continues, and with continued power.