Paul Manafort’s Modus Operandi: Accuse the Female Politician of Crimes She Didn’t Commit, Then Dodge Sanctions

As Paul Manafort’s plea was being unveiled yesterday, a number of legal observers were shocked by how detailed the criminal information was, complete with 38 pages of exhibits. Hopefully, this will stop me from having to bitch incessantly about how many journalists have swallowed Rudy Giuliani’s claims about Mueller writing up a report. As I keep saying (and as Mueller’s boss Rod Rosenstein has said in testimony), there won’t be a report, there will be indictments.

Ostensibly, the exhibits are there to prove the assertion that Paul Manafort lied to DOJ about what kind of work he was doing for Ukraine.

Although MANAFORT had represented to the Department of Justice in November 2016 and February 2017 that he had no relevant documents, in fact MANAFORT had numerous incriminating documents in his possession, as he knew at the time. The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted a court-authorized search of MANAFORT’S home in Virginia in the summer of 2017. The documents attached hereto as Government Exhibits 503, 504, 517, 532, 594, 604, 606, 616, 691, 692, 697, 706 and 708, among numerous others, were all documents that MANAFORT had in his possession, custody or control (and were found in the search) and all predated the November 2016 letter.

But I don’t think that’s why they’re there.

They’re there to show what Paul Manafort does when he’s running a campaign.

Because they show that for the decade leading up to running Trump’s campaign, Manafort was using the very same sleazy strategy to support Viktor Yanukovych that he used to get Trump elected.

In other words, these exhibits are a preview of coming attractions.

Take out the female opponent by prosecuting her

The criminal information provided far more detail about something we had only seen snippets of in the Alex Van der Zwaan plea: Manafort’s use of Skadden Arps to whitewash Yanukovych’s prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko.

It describes how Manafort used cut-outs to place stories claiming his client’s female opponent had murdered someone.

MANAFORT took other measures to keep the Ukraine lobbying as secret as possible. For example, MANAFORT, in written communications on or about May 16, 2013, directed his lobbyists (including Persons D1 and D2, who worked for Company D) to write and disseminate within the United States news stories that alleged that Tymoshenko had paid for the murder of a Ukrainian official. MANAFORT stated that it should be “push[ed]” “[w]ith no fingerprints.” “It is very important we have no connection.” MANAFORT stated that “[m]y goal is to plant some stink on Tymo.”

And it shows Manafort seeding lies that his client’s female opponent had criminal intent when he knew there was no proof to back the claim.

MANAFORT directed lobbyists to tout the report as showing that President Yanukovych had not selectively prosecuted Tymoshenko. But in November 2012 MANAFORT had been told privately in writing by the law firm that the evidence of Tymoshenko’s criminal intent “is virtually non-existent” and that it was unclear even among legal experts that Tymoshenko lacked power to engage in the conduct central to the Ukraine criminal case. These facts, known by MANAFORT, were not disclosed to the public.

This propaganda effort against Manafort’s client’s female opponent included placing stories in Breitbart.

Sanctions will backfire

Manafort placed so much effort on inventing stories about Tymoshenko in part to take her out as a political opponent (and to create an opportunity to pitch Yanukovych’s corruption as a tolerable partner to Europe). But he did so, too, to undermine support for sanctions against Yanukovych for human rights abuses, of which Tymoshenko was the poster child.  Particularly after John Kerry replaced Hillary, Manafort undermined sanctions by promising raw material exploitation opportunities. (This bullet point, at PDF 25, is dated February 24, 2013).

We’ll learn more about what role Manafort himself played in Trump’s policy on sanctions (even aside from any quid pro quo that may have come out of the June 9 Trump Tower meeting), but we know that Trump’s view on sanctions is among the questions Mueller wants to ask Trump, and we know that in an op-ed encouraged by the Trump campaign (and highlighted to Ivan Timofeev), George Papadopoulos argued that sanctions had hurt the US.

Obama lost Ukraine

Manafort was even using some of the very same lines that Trump still uses, such as blaming Obama for “losing” Ukraine (this quarterly memo for Yanukovych, at PDF 21-, is dated April 22, 2013).

Electoral irregularities are my opponents’ fault

Shortly after Yanukovych won in 2010, Manafort boasted that he had established a baseline to be able to claim that Tymoshenko’s complaints about election irregularities were disinformation. (This memo, at PDF 6, is dated February 20, 2010.)

Manafort also prepared a full court press to influence the electoral observers in advance of Ukraine’s 2012 parliamentary election (this document, at PDF 5, is dated as October 9, 2012 in the trial exhibit list).

One thing we’re going to see in former Manafort partner Roger Stone’s eventual indictment is a focus on the work of his Stop the Steal PAC, both just after Manafort arrived to manage the Convention, and his voter suppression efforts (which paralleled Russian ones) during the general election.

Hillary Clinton is the enemy

Finally, as early as February 2013 (see PDF 14), Paul Manafort was advising his client that replacing Hillary Clinton with someone who would value raw material deals over human rights would be a positive development.

As it happens, in 2016, Paul Manafort could please all his clients by offering a man who valued raw material deals over human rights as a positive development.

As I disclosed July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

109 replies
  1. cw says:

    There is a parallel between what Manifort did in the Ukraine to what he did in the US. In the Ukraine his client was a Russian puppet. So essentially, and probably in actuality, Manifort was working for the Russian. He probably went to the people he worked for in Russia (or they went to him) and said: we can do the same thing here.

  2. Rusharuse says:

    Ready made template- just add money? The fact that American voters bought into that shit is perhaps the bigger disappointment!

  3. Laura says:

    I spent the afternoon re-reading Franklin Foer’s series about Manafort in the Atlantic, which are pretty damning; but the indictment was jaw-dropping all the same.  Manafort and his College Repub cronies spawned an entire industry of monied ratfucking lobbyists, most of whom will never be prosecuted.

    I need a scotch now.

  4. orionATL says:

    all the posts about manafort in the last few days are important, but permit me to say rhetorically that in my view this is the most important of the lot for the reason that it shows every interested citizen in this country how public lying and behind-the-scenes political planning (scheming) operate in this country today (and, of course, have since it was birthed).  the techniques planned and used by paul manafort in the ukraine in 2008 against yulia tymoshinko in a culture very different from ours have an exact parallel with the public lying, media collaboration, and behind-the-scenes scheming that were used against hillary clinton in 2016. in both cases, the techniques worked very successfully. manafort well understood that there are always lots of fools to be fooled as they move toward the ballot box whatever the culture.

    a particular value of these details, which the public corruption prosecutors of our depart of justice have laid out for us in abundance, is that they involve affairs in another nation. that may dampen political loyalty enough for citizens to gain some greater insight into our system.

    • orionATL says:

      another great value of the documents the osc’s public corruption prosecutors have laid out for us to read is that they might cause some serious looking-in-the-mirror, fear-of-god reflection among the many practitioners of public lying in the american lobbying/lawyer/public relations fraternity, in particular as they practice public lying for money on behalf of foreign governments and potentates.

    • SteveB says:

      Absolutely agree.

      I read all the criminal information plus exhibits as soon as they became public. I realised that there was a purpose to the exhibits I was not appreciating properly. Thank F**k for EW!! This is seriously good explaining. Team Trump should be seriously worried on a number of levels about what this all means for them.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Yeah, I think political ratfuckery is the most toxic export the US sends overseas, and it’s not tied to party. But it’s naive to think that 2016 was an isolated re-importation. It happens every fucking day to shape policy; it just doesn’t happen quite so often and so blatantly to shape national elections. Most Americans don’t know what a free and fair election looks like.

      And the unctuous Kavanaugh believes it’s all good.

  5. Bob Conyers says:

    It’s good to see a reminder that despite the image of old sad sack Manafort wearing ostrich skin coats he couldn’t afford, he was a brutally effective lobbyist, campaign manager and PR director, who led effective and vicious programs protecting some of the worst people of our generation.

    Mueller is treating Manafort with far more leniency than the victims of his clients ever got.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Agree.  I only wish the twats on tv, wringing their hands about Manafort going to jail, for a long time, would travel and get out more.  Or even spend a few weeks tracking down the victims of the political power plays that Manafort perpetrated – deliberately, and repeatedly – and then tell *their* stories.  Including Tymoshenko’s.

      Manafort almost makes Abramoff look like a schoolboy.

      • Avattoir says:

        Charlie Black has talked in hushed tones about Manafort’s “talent” being unsurpassed. And that’s the judgment of someone who wasn’t ‘merely’ someone who the big msm news orgs treated as Mister GOP, and didn’t just partner up with Paulie Rugs, but also partnered up with Lee Atwater & Roger Stone.

        For Black to have said to WaPo recently, in effect, ‘I just hope it’s not as bad as it looks for Paul’, IMO, means that Manafort took all the race-baiting ratfuckery and other classic machinations for which Black, Stone, Atwater & Manafort by rights should be infamous, and turned it way past 11, to full oligarch and global nuke.

        And it looks to me that Black’s trying to sidle on off the American political stage on all that, just as we’re headed into a period of the implications coming into the sharpest focus since 1972 Nixon.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          Somebody just posted a clipping from the old Spy magazine that listed Manafort Stone Black & Kelly as the worst sleazy influence peddlers in Washington. That was in 1992. So while it’s fun to talk about how Mueller’s office has more than covered its expenses with the forfeiture, every single dollar is soaked in blood.

  6. gedouttahear says:

    Does anybody (other than Mueller et al.) have a clue as to why manafort maneuvered for pence to be t’s vp? (Other than the fact that odious is as odious does.) Does the fact that pence was chairman of t’s transition team indicate continuing participation by manafort in the t administration. And how does pence’s most likely lie — that flynn lied to him — play into any of this? Youth wants to know.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      Pence was very useful to the campaign, and he’s not a head scratching choice the way Sarah Palin was.

      He helped solidify right wing support for Trump, especially among the evangelicals, and unless something unexpected comes up, I don’t think there will be anything conspiracy-related in the way Manafort pushed for him over Chris Christie.

      Whether he was involved in any later shenanigans, I don’t know. I wouldn’t rule it out, but I wouldn’t put him as a top level suspect.

    • BroD says:

      “Does anybody (other than Mueller et al.) have a clue as to why manafort maneuvered for pence to be t’s vp?”

      I suspect the fact that Pence is dumber that dirt was a factor.

      • Willis Warren says:

        Pence was Charles Koch’s favorite candidate, according to Jane Meyer’s book about the Kochs.  It was a no brainer.  Pick Pence, get the Kochs to spend money in swing states, which worked.  Pence isn’t part of this conspiracy, folks.

        • Trip says:

          He might be a pawn in the parallel conspiracy of the Kochs et al (and let’s give the Mercers credit too). Let’s face it: the Kremlin wouldn’t have been so effective if the US oligarchical money machine wasn’t echoing similar things, and getting behind these assholes.

        • William Bennett says:

          And if you’re a member of the Oligarchs R Us party, the question of what country yer oligarchs is from or interests they actually represent is a fading concern. Politicians need money, oligarchs got money, end of story.

          That’s why I think the thread Mueller is pulling on is threatening to unravel a lot more than Trump’s ratty t-shirt. Not that the D’s are immune, either, but the oligarchs for ample and fairly obvious reasons have been much more R-focused from the grass-roots to the Executive and a lot of in-between.

          Thanks Roberts court! Your friends in Moscow salute you.

        • TheraP says:

          Oligarchs – more powerful now than nation states. That’s what worries me.

          The temptation to misuse one’s billions for one’s “pet projects.” No matter how well intentioned at the outset, it’s the ease with which “righteousness” can be corrupted when ends becomes so overriding as to subvert means. And when the ends are manifestly (manifortly?) evil at the outset – already corrupt to the core – some are willing to stoop to anything to get what they desire. Or they ‘find’ people willing to stoop to anything.

          It’s interesting (to me anyway) that this weekend is bookended by two Holy Days of different faiths:

          A. Friday, the day when Manifort admitted guilt and (as Marcy writes above) gave us a blueprint for some of the skullduggery of the 2016 election, was the ancient feast of “The Exaltation of the Cross” or how an instrument of torture came to stand for a sign of redemption. (You don’t have to ‘believe’ anything to see the metaphor at work here. But I found it to be a delicious subtext all day Friday.)

          B. Monday night (tomorrow) to Tuesday night, the Jewish Day of Atonement, “Yom Kippur.” This one should be pretty self-explanatory.

          Just some thoughts….

        • Bob Conyers says:

          I wouldn’t rule it out, since the garbage is piled so high I can’t say for sure some of it hasn’t gotten on Pence.

          But he seems to me to be experienced enough to know how to get good legal advice and make an effort to follow it. At a minimum, I expect he’s been working on his cover stories for a long time, unlike many of these guys.

      • Richard G says:

        “Dumb as dirt?” – this must be the definitive Pence meme.  A friend who worked Indiana GOP politics for many years (sad!) says “He’s dumb as a rock.” In that zone somewhere apparently.

        Anyway, thinking of Manafort, Stone, Pence, McConnell, Meadows…and slowly surely, Robert Mueller–here’s Bob Dylan:

        Big-time negotiators, false healers and woman haters
        Masters of the bluff and masters of the proposition
        But the enemy I see wears a cloak of decency
        All non-believers and men-stealers talkin’ in the name of religion
        And there’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend

        Thanks EW!

    • orionATL says:

      short answer:

      rightwing christians – the most unthinking, lemming-like of all american voters, which is to say, the most reliable group-voting available to a republican candidate.

      their vote is why not only have anti-abortion people been inserted into multiple high supervisory levels within the federal agencies involved with health, but also anti-birth control people as well (yes! they actually exist). then there are the rightwing supreme court appointees.

      the republican party at all levels works on the pay-to-play model. the rightwing christians paid with their votes and the republican victors are paying them off in turn:

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The Democrats are fond of pay-to-play, too, which puts senior party leadership in the driver’s seat, clamps down on non-conformity and individual initiative, harmfully prevents congresscritters from doing more to represent their constituents, and puts lobbyists and their money in control, what with ‘critters spending 40% of their time raising money just to be heard by their own party.

        Little wonder that so many people looked on Trump – blindly and wrongly – as an outsider who could constructively upset the establishment way of doing things.  But he’s a destroyer, not a builder, and he represents no one’s interest but his own.

      • TheraP says:

        Apologies in advance if this seems like going off on a tangent:

        The “lemming-like” right wing Christians are the voters (for the most part), but there’s another group – not lemmings but deliberately hypocritical or with subversive objectives and means. I’m thinking of the Opus Dei, which has succeeded in placing conservative adherents on the Supreme Court and in other powerful government positions. It’s a secretive Roman Catholic organization, almost like a Cult, often using secretive cells, calling for lifetime commitments. (Opus adherents are behind efforts to overthrow the current Pope, a Jesuit. Note well that the Jesuits and the Opus both began in Spain, the latter only last century. But they operate like mortal enemies.)

        At least 3 Opus adherents are on the Supreme Court. Soon there could be a fourth!

        • Trip says:

          TheraP, Is Cardinal Raymond Burke part of it? I didn’t dig too deep, but he is definitely part of the old world chauvinistic, patriarchal, bigoted throw back conservative element in the church. Good friends with Steve Bannon, too. (Even though he was divorced multiple times)

          Info on Burke:

          Add in a dash of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Likuds in Israel, and you got yourself a partnership (or conspiracy) to turn back the clock and indoctrinate people into tyranny.
          Oops, I almost left out the christofascist evangelicals.

        • TheraP says:

          Burke is definitely a conservative working to get this Pope “gone”. (would be interesting to have 3 popes, no? There are already two, wearing traditional Pope white clothing!)

          Whether or not he’s affiliated with the Opus, that I don’t know. (Often that affiliation is secretive. In some cases one can guess from attendance at certain churches or sending their kids to certain religious – Opus affiliated – schools.) But the arch-conservative Catholics cooperate. So I guess it amounts to the same thing. (These folks are in love with ornate vestments – that, curiously, make grown men dress like women!)

          Burke (in drag):

          For whatever reason, the article above admits criticism of Burke, while also seeing him as somewhat of a victim. Uhngh….. But I needed a photo. (There are better ones!)

          (Full disclosure: I was raised RC. So I have standing to complain.)

        • Trip says:

          Since separation of church and state is supposed to be a rule, we all have a right to complain if anyone pushes dogma into law.

        • orionATL says:

          theraP –

          i don’t know what others intend for their meaning of the phrase “rightwing christians”, but i attribute a particular meaning to “rightwing christians” each time i use it. “rightwing christians” includes three groups: protestant evangelicals, aka “jesus freaks”, conservative catholics, and mormons. i suspect the group should also include fanatical zionists, those jews to whom the well-being of the state of israel is more important by far than the well-being of their own nation, but i don’t they are yet included. that the republican party has been chasing and pandering to these zionists for at least the last 20 years suggest they should indeed be included.

          i’ve read that minus the zionists, this group of rightwing christians accounted for about 25% of trump’s voters in 2016. this is a huge number considering their intense loyalty based on a monoclonal political personality.

          here’s one article about the extreme importance of evangelicals minus zionists to the trump coalition:

          here’s an another article cited within the above which was among the first i ever read that challenged the instaneously developed deep wisdom among the mediagentsia in late 2016 about why trump won and clinton lost:

        • posaune says:

          TheraP @ 1:34
          Robert Hanssen was obsessively Opus Dei.  At one point, he was trying to convert a prostitute to Catholicism — took her to Hong Kong and bought her a Benz.   The big Opus Dei parish in DC Metro area is St. Catherine of Siena in VA.

          The founder of Opus Dei was Jose Maria Escriva, who it was later proven, was a pedophile, and yet declared a saint by JPII.  Opus Dei runs a HS in Potomac, MD (The Heights), only for boys.   I learned through the grapevine that this year’s class of confirmation candidates at The Heights overwhelmingly chose St. Escriva as their patron.   So much for protecting children, huh?

    • Frank Probst says:

      I think people need to think about the big picture with Pence.  Pence is either dirty, or he’s a “useful idiot”, or both.  Manafort knows which one it is.  He also knows all of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that led to Chris Christie getting bumped off of the VP slot in favor of Pence.  I suspect that it’s highly likely that somewhere in that process, crimes were committed.  Pence may not have been directly involved in those crimes, and he may not have even been aware of them, but if ANYONE who was involved ends up getting indicted, the optics are going to be awful for Pence.  I think he’ll remain VP as long as Trump is there, but I think that if Trump goes down, Pence will go with him.  YMMV.

        • orionATL says:

          the third in the line of succession is the (new) speaker of the new house – kevin mccarthy, mark meadows, or nancy pelosi :)). take your pick. i”ll take pelosi any day; she is a fine leader. among repubs, mccarthy. it was he who acknowledged that putin pays two american politicians – dana rohrbacher and donald trump.

    • Frank Probst says:

      (Also keep in mind that Manafort probably knows about all kinds of crimes that have nothing to do with Mueller’s investigation.  He was involved in all kinds of sleazy activity.  So it wouldn’t surprise me if Mueller ended up farming out a whole bunch of things to other DOJ offices, and we start to see a bunch of search warrants dropping on people who were in Manafort’s circle but have nothing to do with Trump.)

  7. AndTheSlithyToves says:

    Apologies, but I couldn’t resist!

      • Sabrina says:

        Sorry to be OT, but I’ve seen your name a few times and every time I see it, it reminds me of how great Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky” is:
        ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
        Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
        All mimsy were the borogoves,
        And the mome raths outgrabe.

        It’s a perfect corollary in this case as well; much like how the poem employs a basic structure that is understandable though some words are gibberish, we “infer” their meaning based on the overall narrative structure which we’re all familiar with. In the same way, the 2016 campaign employed the use of a false narrative which many people gladly filled with their own biases. Based on their prior belief system, the outcome changed dramatically: some voted for Trump; others didn’t vote at all. Such a perfect allegory to Lewis Carroll’s poem. Thank you for reminding me of that!

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Looks like a lot of tracking data attached to that url.  Ordinarily, delete the question mark and everything after it.

      • Trip says:

        Facebook is guilty of tracking writ large, not just via links. Take a look at trackers on various websites, even if you aren’t signed up for Facebook. They suck.

  8. greengiant says:

    On page 5 of 38. Exhibit 517. Regarding outside delegations coming for elections indirectly dated, deadline Oct 12. Dated October 9 2012 on which includes defense objection basis.

    Scope of activity includes “Need to respond in writing to specious claims contained in the interim reports.” sic election fraud reports.

    Too bad Manafort’s foresight in planning for “specious” claims is not elaborated on.

    We know operatives for Trump participated in the UK and France as well as the US elections. We have state secretaries of state and election officials traveling to Russia with reciprocal visits including the Russian ambassador.Kislyak. Political scientists investigating Russian election fraud note that Putin’s people have upped their vote fraud game. This begets the question of what vote fraud technology was being transferred, the direction(s) it was transferred and who the parties involved were.

  9. hitchhiker says:

    ” … it shows Manafort seeding lies that his client’s female opponent had criminal intent when he knew there was no proof to back the claim.”

    Deplorable is much too kind. Tymoshenka went to prison for being in the way, and they’d have been perfectly happy to treat HRC (or anyone else who threatened their shale and gas contracts) to the same treatment.

  10. Willis Warren says:


    23. MANAFORT took other measures to keep the Ukraine lobbying as secret as possible. For
    example, MANAFORT, in written communications on or about May 16, 2013, directed his
    lobbyists (including Persons D1 and D2, who worked for Company D) to write and disseminate
    within the United States news stories that alleged that Tymoshenko had paid for the murder of a
    Ukrainian official. MANAFORT stated that it should be “push[ed]” “[w]ith no fingerprints.” “It
    is very important we have no connection.” MANAFORT stated that “[m]y goal is to plant some
    stink on Tymo.” Person D1 objected to the plan, but ultimately Persons D1 and D2 complied with
    MANAFORT’s direction. The Foreign Agents Registration Act required MANAFORT to disclose
    such lobbying, as MANAFORT knew. He did not.

  11. Willis Warren says:

    Sorry, I see you covered this in your write up, I immediately clicked the links and was buried in how much detail is in here. THere’s absolutely no reason to include this level of detail unless it was preparing us for the trump campaign’s strategy, which was probably dictated from Moscow.

    • Avattoir says:

      Thus, the Mueller Report.

      Or rather, a key chapter therein.

      Now let’s see how long it takes msm news orgs to catch on to all this.

      If ever.

      • Rusharuse says:

        “Lock her up”! That is a stink on America that will long linger. Republicans should never be allowed to forget they used these FSU shit techniques on and in USA. Shout it from the hilltops!

  12. Sabrina says:

    And alas, another piece of the puzzle where the truth comes out and is actually *worse* and more conspiracy-like than many people could have imagined. The blueprint for the 2016 election, laid out for us- and it clearly worked for them. I wonder how many other far right movements have taken power by following the same playbook? We’re definitely seeing the rise of (and coordination among) authoritarian movements whose goals are fairly united with respect to weakening democracy. Autocratic governments seem to be easier to maintain in the long run, as democracy requires the citizens to believe that their form of government is worth protecting- we’ve seen the damage  that apathy (and taking the current form of government for granted) can cause during elections.

    Not sure where to post this, but I just heard about this and don’t think I’ve seen it mentioned yet- if it was, my apologies:

    If this were any other president, I wouldn’t be worried, but Trump has a way of weaponizing everything, including this. It just seems like he’s planning…something, though I don’t know what. Maybe a nationwide message in the event of his presidency being threatened? I have no idea, but I hope I’m being unncecessarily paranoid here.

    • Gnome de Plume says:

      Sadly, that occurred to me – that the angry orange maniac will do something inconceivable with his new Power Tweeting ability.  I guess this will be a test to see if there are any adults watching that screen.

    • Nopants says:

      I somehow feel like I’m being duped into participating in this “weaponizing” (as Sabrina put it) test. I’m not a conspiracy kinda gal, but with all said thus far in this venue, I might just turn my phone off that day.

    • orionATL says:

      the behind-the-scene scheming to capture or damage institutions is endemic in politics, american and otherwise. the problem is that ordinary citizen/voters do not see what is happening and thus can have their opinions manipulated. insttutions are routinely taken over by these behind-yhe-scenes schemes.

      1. the u.s. supreme court has been under attack from coldly calculating federalist society fanatics for two decades at least. the attack has become very successful since 2000. the supreme court has ceased to function in its historical way and has become a weapon of corporations, rightwing christians, and national security authoritarians.

      2. some years ago the sierra club experienced a covert effort to take over its top organizational positions.

      3. the southern baptist church was subject to a hidden, schemed take-over by a group led by “the red preacher”. preach was recently dumped by that very conservative organization by an uprising of s. b. women angry at his refusal to give credence to sexual harrassment.

      4. the republican party itself may have been subject to a takeover which brought reagin tonpower though i am less certain of this.

      5. for the last decade at least the koch bros. octopus has worked to take over state legislatures and governorships, realizing that state governments make many important decisions regarding corporations, licensing, taxing, environmental regualation, etc. state elections also receive far less attention and turnout and are thus easier to control than federal congressional and presidential elections. this dampaign has been immensely successful from about 2006.

      6.many local public schoolboards have come under attack from extreme conservatives thru behind-the-back scheming. there are two firms operating nationally who will do searches for proper local rightwing candidates for a school district. this involves christian, general rightwing, and private school fanatics. the content of texts used can be an issue, such as texas sfhool texts that ignore or gloss over slavery.

      7. with the accession of donald trump to the throne, the u.s. federal communications commission has been subject to a behind-the-scenes take over involving rightwing libertarian, former verizon general counsel, federalist society member, and republican political operative ajit pai. the consequence has been the destruction of net neutrality and the authorization for the sinclair broadcasting network to take over much of the broadcast tv markets in the country and provide rightwing propaganda to its viewers.

      • r. helder says:

        very scary!  i despise conspiracy theories, but you set forth facts, many of which i can attest to personally.  hostile take-over of american democracy is almost the theme of the justice lewis powell memo — and that was written over sixty years ago

      • Sabrina says:

        Orion, thanks for the info. I’ve recently been following these connections with respect to political lobbying and dark money. I know the Federalist Society has been playing the long game, rather successfully. I had no idea about the Sierra Club nor the Baptist Church, but those make a lot of sense. Everything even tangentially related to the RNC (even clubs where RNC members congregate) are now increasingly seeming to be tied in with this larger network of duplicity. I think the NRA is definitely in there as well, and of course Ajit Pai and the FCC- why have net neutrality when you can make more money by NOT treating it as an essential service and therefore restricting access based on ability to pay? It’s the paradox of free trade- you may have unlimited choice, but can you afford to pay for it? In the end, one can have as many choices for ISPs as they like, if they’re unaffordable it’s a moot point. And yes, Sinclair- I’m fairly sure at this point that their executives have ties with either the RNC, or Trump, or even Russia. These aren’t “connections” as much as they are a web of criminal schemes, linked together by money and the systematic disenfranchisement of the poorer classes.
        Related to TheraP’s comment- if you look at the rise of the far right movements around the world, these parallel movements are either the best coincidence to ever happen for anti democratic nations like Russia and China. Occam’s razor suggests that they are somehow tied together- countries given “help” to elect a populist nationalist figure who then systematically destroys democracy. It’s happening in Poland, Hungary, even to some extent in Italy. The concurrence of these movements and the fact that they thrive when democracies are weakened makes this incredibly fortuitous for them.
        I am concerned that this Russia investigation goes way beyond the US border and has links internationally. The rise of the Tea Party in 2010 was a taste of what yet was to come for the US, and since then, multinational agreements have been weakened. For example, the EU is hamstrung by a couple of far-right countries (like Poland and Italy) where democracy is rapidly failing but the EU cannot act to sanction these governments since certain member countries with nationalist governments are exercising their veto power. Terribly depressing to think that the ideals held by the EU, the trust given to each of its members inherent in the individual veto power held by each member state, is now being used by these anti democratic EU countries to weaken their alliances and prohibit them from enacting any meaningful change in rogue EU member states.
        The more info that comes out, the more this is looking like an almost global plan set in motion- instigated by Russia, along with possibly some other beneficiaries of weakened democracies; China, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Israel perhaps even. Again, I hope I’m wrong on this, but as we learn more, we can see that the rot in the Republican Party is spread through members and affiliated organizations, which spread into other countries and whose governments are conveniently benefitting from the turmoil the US is currently in (along with the EU, Brexit strategy, etc). I fully suspect Canada will be next. Our new Ontario premier was elected as a populist and immediately started dismantling some norms of our government. It is very much the same playbook that Trump is using and that has been successfully used in other countries like Hungary or Poland- death by 1000 cuts. Each act alone is sort of defensible, but all together reveal a dismantling of free and fair representative government in favor of a more autocratic one.

      • orionATL says:

        fy- eyes :)

        sabrina, et al

        that effort to illustrate the over-archingbidea of a never-ending stream of attempts in contemporary american politics to take over important organizations was hard to write up but not illustrate with citations, as i prefer to do. however, illustrating would have required more time/energy than i had at the time.

        here is one illustration that particularly fascinated me involving the southern baptists, who have become a rabid rightwing group under prodding from behind-the-scene-schemers, somethingvthey had not been. the deteriorating reasonable behavior of this large group of (mostly) southern american led to jimmy carter’s break with them.

        the article features a schemer called “the red bishop”. the story is set by this quote:

        “… Patterson knew how to make things happen in the late 1970s and ’80s when he and others on the far right grew increasingly worried about the convention becoming more moderate on the key question of the Bible’s inerrancy, including on the place of women and the family..”

        as is almost always the case, the twin concerns of th “acceptable” sexual behavior and the control of women is at the core of rightwing christianity. this seems true of the jesus freaks, of the old-world catholics, and of the mormons-in-the-land-of-caanan.

        the citation is:

      • orionATL says:

        as for ultra-conservatives taking over the republican party, this article about hard-rightwinger richard vigueries’ views of the conflict between “establishment republicans” and “boldly conservative” politicians like reagin gives a flavor of that fight (and plugs viguries’ book on viguries’ website :) which resulted ultimately, with a little help from his russian friends, in donald trump’s 2016 victory and the steve bannon/koch bros “destruction of the administrative state”, i.e., the destruction of the legitimacy of the concept of government responsibity to assist to its citizens.

    • TheraP says:

      Mad me think of certain rabid rants by tyrannical despots.

      What is its purpose? Who proposed it? How did it become a “thing”? Why would we need this?

  13. Kim Kaufman says:

    This was really interesting in that it shows how abstract concepts like tax fraud, money laundering or conspiracy actually affects real campaigns and real people.

  14. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Reply not working: hope Avattoir sees this.
    Read the 38 pages of exhibits as a result of your comment.
    Manafort makes evil look quite respectable, and sound positively business-like. Several pages (22 -…) are blank on my browser; whether something has been removed, or simply is not showing up in my browser, I can’t tell.

    Manafort’s many years of experience stealing elections and puffing up dictators made him the perfect Campaign Manager for Donald Trump.

    It appears from the exhibits that Manafort was so experienced in making elections ‘appear legitimate’ via p.r. voodoo that it probably never crossed his mind not to pull that sh!t in the US, in his own nation. It looks like he’d been stealing so many elections, in so many places, for so long, that stealing precincts in Pennsylvania wouldn’t have fazed him.

    Ourobouros; thus, does the snake swallow its tail.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Evil does exist, it is often banal.

      Manafort appears to be a garden variety sociopath.  The ranks of corporate c-suites and Metro DC lobbyists’ offices are full of them.  (A good film several years ago mocked the tobacco version, with one salesman happily selling tobacco on a cancer ward: he was just meeting a need, and making his quota.)   The Catholic Church has its share too, as do most large institutions.

      Manafort’s evil, like Trump’s, has had global implications.  He has been stopped.  He may disclose enough hard evidence to stop others.  That would be a good thing.  We could use more of those.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        I understand the implication that Manafort is a garden variety psycho, with a horde of others like him working today undermining human rights and democracy. But I don’t want to lose the fact that he was a huge trailblazer, a guy whose openly outrageous behavior in the 80s grossly expanded the idea of what was acceptable today.

        This profile in the NY Times is a great example of how normalized he has become.

        His work advising brutal killers is barely mentioned, and only in the most bloodless terms.

        The piece is a perfect example of the lie that the NY Times wants to present a full debate and introduce different voices to their pages. There isn’t room for the voice of a single torture victim, for the spouse of a single murder victim. But they will gladly go with a lede about his trouble paying for Yankees tickets. It never occurs to the Times to deal with his deepest evil. They’d never do that to a guy who was once part of the club.

  15. klynn says:

    EW and bmaz,

    The Judge Roberts stay story by Josh G  is one heck of a story that deserves a TON of attention.

    I suspect this s not OT. Roberts action looks bad.

    • Peterr says:

      Roberts’ action looks pretty much like the way SCOTUS operates during the summer. Each justice has responsibility for emergency appeals on cases coming out of one appellate district, and when time-sensitive issues come up, it lands on their desk. Roberts has the DC circuit, which is where this case originated.

      If it’s an easy call for the justice to make on behalf of what they would expect to be a unanimous (or near-unanimous) court, the justice makes it; if it is more of a question, they refer it to the whole court for consideration. When the court is in session, they can talk about it face to face, but over the summer they need to make phone calls, email documents and perhaps drafts, and otherwise figure out how to rule, and given the justices travel schedules, that isn’t always easy to do.

      Most of the cases that get this treatment are death penalty cases, but others with pressing deadlines and irreversible implications — like this one — get handled like this during the summer. I suspect that Roberts couldn’t get in touch with all his colleagues, and put this temporary stay in place “pending further order of the undersigned or of the Court” until he can.

      Note that Roberts didn’t rule on the merits of the case, but simply this stay pending further appeal. The last line of the writeup at SCOTUSblog captures the essence of this order quite well IMHO: “Roberts’ quick action may have stemmed from a desire to bring clarity to the situation as far in advance of the Monday deadline as possible, but it may also reflect his frustration at the D.C. Circuit’s failure to act on Crossroads Grassroots’ request.”

      Crossroads filed for an expedited briefing on their appeal on Aug 24th, and CREW filed its brief in opposition to this motion on the 27th, but I don’t know how the circuit court ruled on that motion or what the general status of the appeal is. (It’s not on the DC Appeals Court’s calendar for oral arguments that runs from July through October.)

  16. Peacerme says:

    The 2016 elections were a sham. What comes next? Right now feels like a pressure cooker. He will want to run. He might barricade himself somewhere. Or he will try to leave the country. He will not go quietly. Maybe he’s tired. Maybe I am wrong. But he doesn’t know he’s guilty. He is guilty, but he truly doesn’t believe it. He will behave as if he is being attacked. He will feel justified. This part makes me nervous. The tension in the air right now is so high. It’s a matter of moments that a despot goes from feared leader to powerless pathetic human. Remembering Sadam Hussein hiding underground. Hitlers bunker, Ghadafi being poked and prodded. But until that minute occurs, it still feels dangerous, to me.

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Note to Stanford historian – 1989’s “the end of history” man – Francis Fukuyama: Donald Trump does not “instinctively” pick “racial themes to drive people on the left crazy.”

    Driving opponents crazy in that familiar divide and conquer way is part of his feral make-up.  But he instinctively picks racial themes because he’s a racist.

    • Zardoz says:

      But he instinctively picks racial themes because he’s a racist.

      What if you’re wrong, and he’s ‘also’ Machiavellian like Manafort and Stone et al? And/or that his natural predilections are being harnessed and encouraged to achieve a desired hyper-polarization?

      This might give pause as to pondering a possible meaning of the otherwise cryptic name Habsburg Group. The same kind of pause that I underwent upon learning, as a former Libertarian, that the same ‘remnants’ of European monarchy sponsor(ed) the Mont Pelerin Society. The latter associated with the Austrian School of Economics, the backbone of Libertarian economics along with Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, both guaranteed to deliver hyper-concentrated wealth despite their rhetoric to the contrary.

      My falling out with libertarianism began with the unease when one of the Koch brothers bought his way onto the 1980 Presidential ticket behind Ed Clark, a lawyer for Atlantic Richfield BTW.

      The Koch brothers are traditionalist conservative Catholics who, ignoring the relative ‘liberal’ differences in American Catholicism to the balance of the global Church, should otherwise be seen as supporters of the so-called ancien regime, the alliance of monarchy and the Church as always. Now, the Koch’s are caught in a seeming bind, being on opposite sides of the 2 dimensional Nolan political spectrum from the ‘populist’ Bannon wing. Just part of “divide and conquer” in my book. Same as Jesuits versus Opus Dei (from the prior comments of others in this thread). Before Opus Dei came into existence the Jesuits frequently had to play on both sides, the thesis and the antithesis. Not good PR.

      If you need an enemy, sometimes you have to create one. And, sometimes the best way to defeat something is to promote it’s excesses. And possibly as Manafort might have said, “please no fingerprints, use a deniable ‘agent’. And one that seems crazy, like that deadly Samson guy that liked impossible riddles and ‘foreign’ women. Covfefe anyone?”

      When the industrial revolution took over, the means of wealth generation moved away from the ignoble, aristocratic lords’ feudal system and thus we now see the best transposition to the new order in Putin’s oligarchy of industrialists, all paying fealty to Putin, under the new feudalism no longer based on agricultural land. And the ‘Eastern’ Church there positions him as their savior, and an apocalyptic one at that, readying to destroy all those ‘evil’ Western liberals. Here, the Western and Eastern ‘Churches’ have common cause, and canonic ‘playbooks’. See the end of Genesis 47, that part of the Joseph narrative they all gloss over in Sunday School. Cui bono?

      • Sabrina says:

        Interesting comment. I’ve just learned of Opus Dei through this comment section and have read up on them (though raised Catholic, I’d never heard of them). It certainly sounds like there’s many precursors there to these dark money, influence-trading groups. I quite liked your comment tying these elements together and talking about the need for creation of an “enemy” in order to effectively influence the populace surreptitiously and to cast oneself, by default, as the “good guys”. It is a persuasive belief (and glib saying) that nonetheless works for many people- the enemy of the enemy is thy friend. Even if it is illogical, it can often “feel” true and is a difficult biological program to override. Which is why it works so well, of course.

    • orionATL says:

      earlof h –

      and because donald q.trump is a pandering demagogue who prefers above all things carnal to fuck with a big noisy mob of loving supporters and set them roiling about, getting off himself on their screams of rapture.

      • TheraP says:

        Your description of Trump’s behavior during rallies – as a type of sexual exhibitionism/gratification is brilliant! And so apt!

        I’m not prone to using dirty language – but I applaud yours! It’s the only language that truly captures the degree of depravity going on here. What I term the Trump Reign of Error.

  18. Marc McKenzie says:

    The most horrifying thing about this is not just that Manafort used the “Ukrainian playbook” over here in the US during the 2016 elections against Hillary Clinton.  No, the most horrifying thing is to see just how many fell for it, both on the right, and on the left.

    Of course, many in the mainstream media did too–but then again, it was easy since they already had nearly thirty years of anti-Hillary s#@t piled up in a bunker.

    Manafort doing a plea deal and cooperating with Mueller is a big deal.  Trump and company had better believe that they are well and truly f#@ked now.  It’s now up to us to go out and vote in November to take back the House and make inroads in the Senate and at the state level.  Mueller is doing his job–now let’s do ours.

  19. Peterr says:

    Hopefully, this will stop me from having to bitch incessantly about how many journalists have swallowed Rudy Giuliani’s claims about Mueller writing up a report.

    You just keep dreaming your dream, Marcy.

    My not-such-a-WAG is that this post will help keep your bitching shorter, since you can refer to it more quickly in your tweets. “Rudy is, as usual, wrong, and you keep buying it. See here for the details . . .”

  20. Howard Martin says:

    This may seem obvious to y’all (though doesn’t seem to be popping up in MSM coverage), but it is hard to see what benfit Manafort got out of this deal…unless he is getting protection from Putin-poisoning. Which implies that OSC threatened him with a Treason charge, or something with similar consequences.

    How likely is it that the Trump inner circle was duped by Manafort, instead of knowingly complicit?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      As to that last question, I’ve a bridge to sell you if you think Trump’s inner circle contained any dupees, as opposed to dupers.

      Different agendas, networks, and levels of knowledge about specific matters they may have had, but none of them were innocents, naive, or uninformed about the game they were playing.

    • TheraP says:

      Ever heard that “birds of a feather / flock together”?

      The Big Bird is Trump. He picks “only the best people” dontcha know?

      There is Zero Chance that Manafort is the Prime Mover here. ZERO!

  21. SteveB says:

    Very much enjoyed listening to EW on the GOTMFV Show podcast, recorded yesterday but downloaded on Stitcher today.


  22. Cord Williams says:

    Federal regulations expressly require the special counsel to prepare and submit a report to Rosenstein.  See 28 CFR Sec. 600.8(c).

    • bmaz says:

      That tells you next to nothing. The is no specification for the nature, depth or length of said “report”, nor any mandatory provision for further disseminating such a report to the public.

  23. Jenny says:

    There is a black & white photograph (see link) of “Paul Manafort, Roger Stone & Lee Atwater, the young Republicans political operatives who had set up lobbying firms – 1985.”

    Was this previews to coming attractions from The Political School of Dirty Tricks in 1985?

    Paul Manafort is guilty & going to jail.  Lee Atwater on his deathbed apologized for his nasty & mean election tactics.  What about Roger Stone?  Will he be next.  More to be revealed …

    • holdingsteady says:

      I’m thinking you’re wrong, I think it’s Kavanaugh who’ll be ripped to shreds. Hard rains a gonna fall!

      A million women need to march on the Capitol, I’ll be there!

      • TheraP says:

        We’ve never gotten over how Anita Hill was treated. And how Thomas got smuggled onto the Supreme Court – by short-circuiting the testimony of two other victims.

        And we’re not having another tarnished so-called “Justice” wrecking “justice” for women!

      • Rayne says:

        The more I read women’s sentiments across Twitter, the more I’m certain we could mount a march to rival the millions for January 2017 Women’s March. I tallied estimates by city that day and came up with 6 million globally, at least 3.5-4 million in the U.S. alone. There will indeed be shredding.

        • holdingsteady says:

          Wonderful!  If we assume the hearing will be delayed, giving more time, maybe a new rally could be organized?!  This is way over my head, but I seriously would fly to DC from Alaska for this one.

          I’m not on twitter, but is Cecile Richards speaking up on twitter?  She could help organize!

          I know Linda Sarsour and others have been in DC protesting the hearings and getting arrested (zipties sound painful).  I heard Dianne Feinstein mocking them on Cspan as they shouted their protests.  Her group is organizing a Sept, 20 action in DC.  With a delay, maybe more could have time to show up to a march.

  24. Yohei72 says:

    Marcy – Your opening paragraph is the first I’ve heard that Rosenstein explicitly said “there won’t be a report, there will be indictments.” Do you have a link? I’d be interested to read that.

  25. Worried says:

    “Put some stink on her”……..

    Whether him, or her, that pretty much summarizes campaign strategies used when trying to get an inferior candidate elected.

    Manafort, Stone, Rove, Atwater, etc.; their Hail Mary strategy

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