Paul Manafort Indicted for Laundering 50 Times as Much Through Rugs as Through Household Labor

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One of the nifty things Robert Mueller did with his indictment of Paul Manafort was to lay out all the extravagances he used to launder his money into the US. The most amazing was his $1M antique rug bill.

Mueller also listed $1.4 million laundered through two different clothing stores.

Compare that with the mere $20,000 Manafort spent on the people who clear his NY property.

Admittedly, Manafort appears to have redone his Hamptons and FL properties routinely to launder more money. But it basically means he shorted his staff while spending big on magic carpets.

Which will make Trump’s efforts to give rich shits like Manafort more tax benefits this week even more difficult.

The money laundering through luxury goods isn’t the key crime in Manafort’s indictment. That has to do with serving as an unregistered foreign agent with regards to work from 2012. Importantly, that means Mueller got to point to Tony Podesta’s corruption prominently as one of these two unnamed firms.

The allegation is that by having one Republican and one Democratic lobbyist firm to do the work of pro-Russian Ukrainians, Manafort hid what was really going on.

Just as interesting, Mueller slapped a false statements charge onto the failure to report being a foreign agent, tied to these claims (they carry onto a second page).

That way, if the idea of actually enforcing foreign registry laws doesn’t fly (which is admittedly a novel idea in DC), they still have some crimes to charge Manafort with.

Hopefully, that false statements charge and the idea of charging for failure to register will send a chill through all of DC’s other corrupt influence peddlers.

Importantly, Mueller called for all these toys and much (but not all) of Manafort’s real estate to be forfeited. Which will make it harder for him to pay his lawyers and harder for him to look like a million dollars as he turns himself in.

The money laundering charges here (though not necessarily the foreign registry ones) can be punted down to NY State if Trump pardons Manafort.

Here’s what this does: it applies some pressure to Manafort (and serves as an object lesson to Mike Flynn, who can be charged tomorrow with the same registry related crimes). But it doesn’t yet get into the heart of the Russian influence crimes, which preserves Manafort’s ability to testify about them (that is, to flip).

It’s unclear whether it will work. My biggest question of the day is who is paying for Manafort’s legal bills and how long they’ll be willing to continue doing so.

29 replies
    • bmaz says:

      That is absolute garbage. If Manafort and Gates cooperate, and that is the purpose of all the filings released today, they are FAR more important.

  1. Trent says:

    Regarding the legal bills his Cypriot LLCs are probably covering him now, but does Manafort have any legitimate domestic income?

    These are key points that are helpful in determining Mueller’s strategy:
    “Hopefully, that false statements charge and the idea of charging for failure to register will send a chill through all of DC’s other corrupt influence peddlers.”
    “The money laundering charges here (though not necessarily the foreign registry ones) can be punted down to NY State if Trump pardons Manafort.”
    “But it doesn’t yet get into the heart of the Russian influence crimes, which preserves Manafort’s ability to testify about them (that is, to flip).”

    Manafort’s the queen of spades and Mueller has ace/king (Trump/Kushner) in the hole.
    Any ideas if Mueller is a better poker player than Fitzgerald?

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Hoping the game is Hearts and Mueller has the correct cards to ‘Shoot the Moon’.

      I believe that is the case.

      A single hand of poker is insufficient and this is not a poker game. It’s not even Texas Hold’em.

    • orionATL says:

      glad to see patrick fitzgerald mentioned in this context.

      from my many hours of reading emptywheel’s reporting in fine detail on the plame unmasking scandal, i learned that in a super high stakes game like indicting and convicting a vice-president’s chief-of-staff, it is important for the prosecutor to pick his charges carefully so they will be obvious to the most unsympathetic juror or judge. i guess you could say a patrick fitzgerald-type prosecutor wants to avoid a charge that requires a long chain of reasoning. best keep it simple – something obvious, like senator x had $500k wrapped and stacked in his home freezer :)

      • Trent says:

        Yeah agree on the making the complex, simple part.

        I am also a long time lurker of our hosts’ work along with Redd’s at Jane’s old lake house.

        Seems like Fitz sure should have nailed Cheney…

        • orionATL says:

          yeah, i loved fdl with last hurrah.

          i think fitzgerald might have nailed cheney so long as a jury didn’t give cheney he’s-my-leader absolution.

          but i like to think fitzgerald held off out of respect for the devil’s claim that cheney was his – his to torture for eternity for the iraq monstrosity.

  2. orionATL says:

    cyprus! where russian business crime goes for a vacation.

    meanwhile, back in gotham, “pssst, wanna great deal in a beautiful hand-woven rug from khazakstan? i can get it for you cheaper than shipping. here, look at these pitchers.”

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    One reason for the amount Manafort paid his staff would be that they would have kept whatever they were paid. That would defeat the purpose of the laundering scheme.

    Manafort’s alleged money laundering would likely have involved pouring money received through the correct vendors, for which he would have received a commission.  The correct vendors would then send a portion of the money received to others, keeping their agreed commission.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

    The original amount that starts this process is the amount laundered; the net amount at the end of the chain is the amount that has become starchy white and clean and can be spent normally, outside the laundry.  Users of laundering services ordinarily keep close tabs on total costs at each step and impose penalties for unexpected losses.

    There are many other forms of laundering.  A common use of dirty money that does not involve laundering is to keep large sums on deposit in, say, Switzerland, on which no interest is paid.  The foregone interest is the price paid to keep the money safe and available.  But that process does not turn dirty money into clean.

    Manafort might have kept his suits or rugs, but that would be as part of his commission.  On the other hand, Manafort might love new suits and antique rugs and might claim – as do most fixers inside the Beltway – that their services are worth every penny, Deutschmark, pound, franc, euro, ruble and yuan paid to them.

    • orionATL says:


      this is very helpful. money laundering is a harder concept for the average person (like me) to grasp than one might expect.

    • matt says:

      “the guy had a reputation, so who was responsible for bringing manafort into the trump camp?”

      Manifort is the “top dog” coordinating the whole web of Russia and opportunistic American  business.  Manifort would be Putin’s top choice to coordinate interests between the White House and Kremlin- if he was a tad less shady and didn’t have to resign, I’d bet he’d have an official role in the administration.

      Trump family business in Russia goes back further than anyone’s (20+ years?), and Manafort was the most powerful political figure circling in Moscow, Kiev, and Washington.  It’s not just “Russia’s agenda” in Ukraine, Syria to get the State Dept. of their back.  All Trump’s associates also have a business agenda in Russia related to Real Estate, Finance, or Energy (Rosneft, Gazprom, Alpha).  Case in point is Tillerson’s (Exxon) “billions” tabled arctic drilling deal.

      I know everybody at EW already knows this… but one of the underlying currents, not talked about in the media, is that Bushs/Clintons/Obama have strongly supported winner-take-all foreign energy policy (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine) aligned against Russia (although, we always point to Putin as the aggressor).  If we just put our flags down for a minute, we can see that it is perfectly acceptable for Russia to court Western business critical of the current US foreign policy narrative.  And, vs. starting a real war, maybe turn the political tide with some creative hacking/ad buying.

      At any rate, Manifort is only going down because his business of lobbying has regulations preventing non-disclosed work for foreign states, which is why he had to launder money.  Exxon, Trump, and others are free to do business with state enemies unless expressly forbidden by sanctions.


  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump as a private citizen might be free to do business with Russian private and public officials, absent sanctions.  Trump the candidate and Trump the president are not so fortunate.  “Corrupt influence” is a phrase Trump might disdain as either redundant or a contradiction in terms; regardless, as a public employee, he should become more familiar with it.

    There are many reasons for money laundering, starting with how lucrative it is.  The networking is spectacular, too, if those are the people you want in your network and vice versa.  The top money launderers are not in Gibraltar, the Caymans or the Channel Islands.  They are in London and New York, the Oxfordshire hills and the Hamptons.  Manafort would be familiar with many of them, which should make some of them, as well as Manafort, nervous.

  5. Kim Kaufman says:

    According to John Nichols on radio this morning, Manafort and Trump have known each other since the 1980s. In meetings during the campaign, Manafort was the only one calling him “Donald,” everyone else “Mr. Trump.” Fwiw.

  6. Avattoir says:

    FWIW, who do we understand is the “Davis” in Davis-Manafort?

    Would that be Rick Davis? Who was McCain’s presidential election campaign manager in 2000 & again for a time in 2007-8? Who got in trouble over establishing contact between McCain & Putin’s Rus oligarch buddy Oleg Deripaska?

    How is ANY of this going on without Rick Davis getting a rug or 2 thrown HIS way?

  7. dalloway says:

    I wonder if some of Manafort’s money laundering isn’t mentioned in the indictment, specifically any Russian money he may have laundered before funneling it to the Trump campaign. Remember all Trump’s bleating about financing his own campaign?  Remember in July when he made his big announcement about forgiving a $50 million dollar loan to his campaign? Given Trump’s pattern of never spending his personal funds when he can get away with using other people’s money, and given that Trump would surely expect significant compensation for doing Putin’s bidding (like getting the GOP platform point on arming Ukraine changed) I’d bet some, if not all, of that money was Russian.  And because Manafort was already on FBI radar for money-laundering, they may have monitored the transaction(s) in real time.  It was in July, wasn’t it, that the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia was opened?  Hmmmm.

  8. matt says:

    Company A and B are Mercury and the Podesta Group (right?).  Assuming they were in the same boat with late FARA filings… would they also be indicted?   Did Manifort rope in T. Podesta to spread the blame?  WTF was Podesta Group (reasonably respectable democratic lobbying firm) doing working with Manifort?  This is the one thing that makes no sense.

    • lefty665 says:

      Actually, it makes a great deal of sense. They’re all part of the same elite, east coast and inside the beltway club that operates across party lines peddling influence and feathering each others nests. They are all corrupt. Remember that Tony and John founded the lobbying Podesta Group together in 1988. If they skate it will be because Mueller & Co are also members of the club.  Obama, Holder, Geithner and too big to jail Wall Streeters are also club members. Club member Manafort is getting thrown to the dogs in pursuit of an orange haired non club member who has had the effrontery to crash the party and who, along with all his other profound shortcomings, threatens to commit the mortal sin of disrupting the money and power apple cart.

      • matt says:

        “there all corrupt” is not a good enough answer.  T. Podesta seemingly has committed the same crimes as, and colluded with, Manifort, but he and his brother were lockstep believers/supporters of Hillary and Obama… and while Manifort worked in the shadow of the administration, Tony had the key to the front door.  One could guess that Hillary/Obama didn’t know what Manifort was doing, but Tony was meeting with them directly in his efforts to promote a pro-Russia backed Ukraine.  Can anyone make sense of this?

  9. Bay State Librul says:

    Mueller & Company are also members of the club.

    Really, Lefty, Mueller?

    You are a fucking nihilist, pro-Trump idiot (sorry but it is true).

    Have a little respect, please


    • lefty665 says:

      George Carlin observed “They’re members of a club and you (nor I) ain’t in it”. Why should I have respect for a crowd of corrupt elite neolib and neocon fat cats and right wing whack jobs who have been screwing our country and the world for fun and profit? Until the Dems come to their senses and quit stampeding like lemmings after the aforementioned corrupt elites rational people have to continue observing that the emperors and empresses have no clothes. Some Dems are stupid enough to think that because we don’t worship their corrupt idols we must worship the ones they hate. Tain’t so and never has been.

    • matt says:

      Have a little respect? Whoa, line 3 in your above comment is severely hypocritical.

      Occupy, Green, Sanders, or FDR Liberals are not pro-Trump idiots.  Lefty’s right on trade, foreign policy, financial regulation being indistinguishable between the parties.  Don’t you think its OK to voice discontent within your own party?

    • matt says:

      That was my problem with “Occupy.”  They had the facts right on Wall St, banking regulation, financial crimes… but parading around in Guy Fawkes masks isn’t going to change anything.

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