Special counsel Robert Mueller‘s team made a major factual error in the indictment charging Paul Manafort and Richard Gates with multiple violations of federal law.
That indictment, signed October 27, 2017, was finally made public this morning. Manafort and Gates surrendered themselves to the FBI soon thereafter. But a cursory glance at the indictment itself should provide their attorneys with at least one point of contention.
Midway through the charging documentation–on page 16 of the 31-page indictment–is a reference to Viktor Yanukovych, the former president of the Ukraine and one of Manafort’s former clients. Manafort is accused of failing to have registered as a lobbyist for Yanukovych in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act(“FARA”), amongst other various crimes detailed therein.
Contained within that reference to Yanukovych is a glaring and atypically sophomoric error that could have easily been avoided or remedied with a simple Google search by someone–an intern, maybe–amongst Mueller’s legion of lawyers.
Paragraph 22 of the indictment reads, in part…
At the direction of MANAFORT and GATES, Company A and Company B engaged in extensive lobbying. Among other things, they lobbied multiple Members of Congress and their staffs about Ukraine sanctions, the validity of Ukraine elections, and the propriety of Yanukovych imprisoning his presidential rival, Yulia Tymoshenko (who had served as Ukraine President prior to Yanukovych)… [emphasis added]
FACT: Yulia Tymoshenko was not the president of the Ukraine prior to Yanukovych.
She ran in the Ukrainian presidential election against Yanukoych in 2010 and came in second place. Tymoshenko ran again in 2014 and came in second, again.
What might have been confusing the Mueller team–or whoever was unlucky enough to be assigned final typing and editing duties–was Tymoshenko serving as Ukrainian prime minister after Yanukovych served as prime minister–a term of office lasting from December 2007 to March 2010.
To be clear, the Mueller indictment claims Tymoshenko was the Ukrainian president before Yanukovych. In reality, Tymoshenko was simply the prime minister after Yanukovych. Mueller gets both the order and the office wrong.
The Tymoshenko flub is a massive error of fact, but it doesn’t impinge much–if any–on the narrative contained in the indictment itself. The error doesn’t really bear upon the background facts related to Manafort’s and Gates’ alleged crimes. The error also doesn’t bear whatsoever upon the laws Manafort and Gates are accused of breaking. Rather, it’s an error which bears upon the credibility of the team now seeking to prosecute the men named in the indictment.
Of course the entire Ukraine narrative, brought back into the spotlight with Manafort’s arrest, exposes how uninformed the US political and media class are when it comes to understanding Ukraine, and Russia’s relationship to Ukraine.
As RT correctly notes, if Manafort is placed under arrest for his “Ukraine connections” and as Mueller puts it, “influence activities”, then why not arrest Victoria Nuland and of course John McCain…two individuals who were on the Maidan actively partaking in “influence activities.”
The indictment against Manafort and Gates goes on to say, in connection once again to Ukraine, that “[I]t is illegal to act as an agent of a foreign principal engaged in certain United States influence activities without registering the affiliation.”
Well, that’s interesting. A very good lawyer could probably level the very same charge against US Senator John McCain and Victoria Nuland, former assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, both of whom showed up in central Kiev, agitating the masses amid the Maidan protests. That certainly seems to qualify as “influence activities.”