According to Hope Hicks’s Testimony, Trump Should Applaud Paul Manafort’s Conviction

Every time I review what how dodgy (in the case of Carter Page and George Papadopoulos) or absolute sleazebags (Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort) the first subjects of the Russian investigation are, I grow more and more convinced that Trump must have something to hide, otherwise he’d spend his time beating up these guys for tainting his beautiful campaign, to say nothing of trying to monetize their association with him.

That’s all the more true given that the Trump campaign fired three of the men for the same Russian ties they got investigated for and, according to a number of Trump’s associates, had grown impatient with Flynn even before his calls to Sergey Kislyak. That said, when asked about it in her House Judiciary Committee testimony, Hope Hicks seemed like she was trying to minimize the damage of her testimony that Trump had already soured on Flynn when the former General started lying about his discussions with Sergey Kislyak.

Which is why I find this exchange between Norm Eisen and Hicks so fascinating (note: Eisen is one of the HJC staffers who has read some of the underlying materials in the Mueller investigation, and he asked a number of questions that disclosed those underlying materials, as he does here).

Q Okay. Did you hear candidate Trump tell Mr. Gates, Rick Gates, to keep an eye on Manafort at any point during the campaign?

A Yes.

Q Tell me about that incident.

A It was sometime after the Republican Convention. I think Mr. Trump was displeased with the press reports regarding the platform change, the confusion around the communications of that, Paul sort of stumbling in some interviews and then trying to clarify later and it just being messy. So he was frustrated with that. I don’t think that Mr. Trump understood the longstanding relationship between Rick and Paul. I think he, you know, obviously knew that Rick was Paul’s deputy but not maybe to the extent of — you know, didn’t understand the extent of their relationship. And he said something to the effect of — you know, I’m very much paraphrasing here, so I want to be very careful — but sort of questioned Paul’s past work with other foreign governments, foreign campaigns, and said that, you know, none of that would be appropriate to be ongoing during his service with the Trump campaign and that Rick needed to keep an eye on that and make sure Mr. Trump was aware if anything led him to believe that was ongoing.

Q What do you mean by the “platform change”?

A Whatever was reported in the press. To be honest, I had no knowledge of it during the actual convention.

Q Is it a reference to the change in the RNC platform concerning arming Ukraine?

A Again, I’m not familiar with the details.

The first concerns about the platform were raised on July 18, 2016. The interview where Manafort most famously stumbled was on July 27, 2016 (which happened to be just two days before Manafort agreed to meet with Konstantin Kilimnik about a Viktor Yanukovych plan to carve up Ukraine). According to Hope, Trump’s response to those events was to ask Rick Gates to keep an eye on Manafort.

That would date the request to around the same time as Gates attended part of the August 2, 2016 meeting between Kilimnik and Manafort where the latter briefed his former employee on how the campaign intended to win Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania while talking about how to get more work with Ukrainian oligarchs and Oleg Deripaska. That is, not only was Manafort’s past work with foreign governments continuing during his service on Trump’s campaign — precisely what (according to Hicks) Trump said would be so problematic — but Manafort was using Trump’s campaign to secure ongoing business with those foreigners.

If Trump’s concern about Manafort’s foreign ties back in 2016 were serious — and not just a reaction against bad press — then he should be furious upon the revelation that not only were Manafort’s ties to Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs ongoing during the campaign, not only was he using Trump’s campaign as a way to secure his next big gig, but that Gates knew all that.

Instead, he was and probably still is considering pardoning Paul Manafort.

Either Hicks’ claims about this exchange are spin — for example, claiming that Trump was worried about the conflict generally rather than just the bad press about it — or something happened after the fact that has brought Trump to forgive Manafort for doing precisely what he was so worried he would do, mix loyalties during the election.

It be really nice if Trump were asked why he’s so angry that Mueller discovered that his campaign manager was engaged in just the kind of disloyalty he told Hicks, in real time, he was worried about. Better still, it’d be nice if he were asked why, rather than cheering Manafort’s conviction for these divided loyalties, Trump is instead considering pardoning him.

As I disclosed last 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.

38 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The most likely answer seems to be that Trump expected a piece of the action. As you say, if he’s miffed, it’s because of the bad press about something rather than the something itself, and possibly because that piece of the action was never paid.

    Instead, Trump finds himself working hard to keep Putin happy – dissolving American alliances, for example – to avoid further exposure of his Russian past. Which makes Trump an example of Faulkner’s, “The past is never dead. It’s not even the past.”

    • Americana says:

      I don’t think it was Trump expecting a piece of the action. It was obviously terror on Trump’s part the change in the Republican platform viz Ukraine and Russia could be traced back to his influence.

      As for Trump, it’s a bizarre coincidence Manafort’s trading his polling data through Kilimnik would be the double-edged sword that would push his campaign in battleground states via Russian trolls, social media while also helping to solve Manafort’s problems w/Deripaska.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Trump would have been more frightened had he not arranged to change the platform in Russia’s favor.

        • Americana says:

          No kidding! Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when those discussion(s) were taking place… Will we ever get frank admissions from any of the Republicans in the know as to how Trump handled that sleazy moment?

          Instances where Trump has failed Putin are thankfully sometimes very public. These sorts of faux pas by Trump will eventually work in our favour legally. I think the first time Trump’s fear factor was on full-on display for me was when Trump tried to shill two programs Putin wanted the U.S. to adopt jointly w/Russia. Trump tried to make a PR push (putsch!) for Putin and it just blew up in Trump’s face during the post-Helsinki summit presser.

          I’m talking about Trump plugging the expansion of: 1) a Russo-American legal agreement whereby the U.S. would extradite Americans to Russia for interrogation by Russians, and 2) a joint cyber security pact. Lordy, Chris Wray had major chortles over those two programs at the Aspen Security Forum.

    • Americana says:

      Trump recognized the risks Manafort posed by making slip-ups like stumbling over lying about Trump not having any financial relationships w/Russian oligarchs. It was obvious in that interview Manafort was flummoxed Trump would attempt to lie about something that was already well established knowledge, at least in some circles — Trump’s financial dependency on Russian oligarch funding.

      As for Trump getting a piece of Manafort’s action, I doubt that was Trump’s motivation to keep Manafort in line. Trump would have had his eyes firmly fixed on Trump Tower Moscow. That was Trump’s link to his next empire moves in Russia including potentially further inveigling of Putin. Having Manafort making public stumbles about Trump’s Russian business activities would have put all that at greater risk at a point in his campaign when he couldn’t afford that to have greater factual basis given to theories about his Russia ties.

  2. Tom says:

    Good use of open-ended question–“Tell me about that incident”–to elicit a free-flowing narrative response from Hicks.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Eisen made a rookie’s error. His question assumes a single incident. There may have been more than one. Eisen could have avoided the problem had he stopped with, “Tell me about that.”

  3. Willis Warren says:

    Hope and Lewandowski have been lying their asses off about Manafort from day 1. Remember, in Lewandowski’s book, he claimed that trump said “Great, my campaign manager is a crook”

    There’s no way that really happened.

    • P J Evans says:

      It could have happened – Tr*mp would only object if his manager was stealing from *him*.

      • Americana says:

        Yep. It sure seemed like Trump was happy Manafort was a crook already hooked up w/the Russians and the Ukrainians because it meant Trump wouldn’t have to explain himself and his own companies being beholden and hooked up w/the Russians in a permanent but fluid structural alliance. This is the most telltale criminal aspect of all, at least to me, Trump’s insider/outsider designation of folks on his team.

        After all, Manafort’s value to the Russians and to Trump would have gone up exponentially if and when(??) Manafort made the following disclosure to Trump about being able to assist him via releasing the polling data to Russian analysts. It’s still a question in my mind if Manafort informed Trump as to what he could do for Trump as far as getting the Russians to redirect their trolls to support him in the particular battleground states on the basis of the polling data. Manafort could have explained giving the Russian analysts access in ways Trump would have understood while Manafort wouldn’t necessarily have had to disclose that he was trading this information for his own sake because of being $13(?) MILLION in the red w/Oleg Deripaska. Will we ever chase this fact down? Is this what Manafort is referencing when he says “he’ll never give Trump up”?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      As Mortimer said to Randolph Duke, who recalled that mommy called his brother greedy, “She meant it as a compliment.”

  4. Ruthie says:

    If Hicks is telling the truth, Trump could have known about the exchange of polling data practically in real time – and did nothing. Since Gates has been cooperating, presumably he’d have coughed up details of any such request to report on Manafort’s activities to Trump. Maybe I missed it, but I don’t remember hearing anything like this. Wouldn’t that be an easily provable lie, just by talking to Gates?

  5. Rugger9 says:

    Or, Hope just threw Junior under the bus…

    It might mean another subpoena for Junior (Fredo?).

    Gym Jordan’s typical behavior in the Hatch Act hearing today might be the stuff needed to push the Ds into impeachment since it is clear that the Rethugs are never going to cooperate.

    TPM for their part were wondering about the details swirling around Duncan Hunter, in particular why the Congresscritter is walking away from the slap on the wrist his wife will get. Friends in Congress (GOP)??

  6. Jenny says:

    Weaving lies in this maniacal administration. Ugh! Too bad her testimony wasn’t televised.

    Can someone explain how it is possible for Hicks who no longer is in the WH, no longer a public servant had 3 WH lawyers and 1 DOJ along with her 2 personal lawyers represent her when she testified to the House Judiciary Committee? Why was the DOJ lawyer involved? Isn’t that conflict of interest? Did she get special dispensation from Barr?

    Thanks in advance.

  7. MattyG says:

    It’s both surprising and not surprising that DT is finally getting around to the “ill served by a subordinant defense”. Surprising since it would have seemed the obvious way out all along – that is if there had ever been a shred of possibility that DT could immunize himself against personal involvement with the election deal, but unsurpising since it’s pretty clear DT *can’t* immunize himself because how deep he committed himself.

    Since he’s sinking so bad now the plan may be for Hicks to trial balloon such a form of defense – mainly for DTs association with Flynn and Manafort but probably others as well like Stone etc., to gauge public response. It will be in the form of fabricated worries DT supposedly had about these guys. Throwing them two under the bus will be a balancing act to get them to take the heat while still playing the pardon card so they don’t rat him out. If they feel DTs vaunted “base” and Senate Reps would still still stay in line they may turn heavy on these guys. Beside pardons huge amounts of post-pardon emuluments would probably be involved.

    • MattyG says:

      By all that I meant that Hicks may be assisting DT in a preliminary test plan. Drop a few references to phoney second thoughts DT had and see how they fly.

  8. Vicks says:

    Oh the pretty little liar!
    It is understandable that she may not have known about the platform changes in real time but no way in hell she didn’t get herself up to speed when they started making news and/or that does she not understand things now.
    I though the amount of pro- Trump representation was, if nothing else overkill. Did anyone else get the sneaky feeling Hope-ee is part of a coordinated strategy?
    The rest of the herd has either refused or been no-shows at the last minute. Obviously Trump has them all under his control. She certainly wasn’t cooperating. Why exactly was she the one who decided to show up and answer questions?

    • bmaz says:

      Because her lawyer is Bob Trout, and he is very smart and very good. He knew the right way to deal with this, and had her prepared.

      • vicks says:

        Makes sense, while I have you can you answer a question on privilege?
        I understand it does not apply when crimes have been committed.
        Is there any legal jeopardy to people “ordered” not to cooperate by someone citing privilege if they themselves know of or were involved in crimes?
        Actually that’s two questions, having knowledge of is obviously different from committing a crime.

        • bmaz says:

          Well, such a witness can always plead the 5th. But, really, no. She was instructed not to answer, so that is not on her. That is why it was smart to so appear.

  9. clairence says:

    I was of the understanding that Hick was not sworn in as a witness. Wouldn’t that make her testimony questionable at best?

  10. klynn says:

    “It be really nice if Trump were asked why he’s so angry that Mueller discovered that his campaign manager was engaged in just the kind of disloyalty he told Hicks, in real time, he was worried about. Better still, it’d be nice if he were asked why, rather than cheering Manafort’s conviction for these divided loyalties, Trump is instead considering pardoning him.”

    Those questions need to be asked. It will taint the pardon even more.

    Boy this post will drive some angry tweets…

  11. harpie says:

    Hicks [to Eisen]:

    […] And he said something to the effect of — you know, I’m very much paraphrasing here, so I want to be very careful — but sort of questioned Paul’s past work with other foreign governments, foreign campaigns

    And we’re actually supposed to believe that Trump gave Manafort the job of Campaign Manager withOUT knowing all about his past???

    Tom Barrack, Trumps’ old friend, helped introduce him.
    Roger fucking Stone is a long time friend of both Trump and Manafort.

    As we see every day, Trump knows exactly who he’s asking to do the jobs he wants done; just look at Morgan at ICE and Cuccinelli at USCIS…They fit his perceived needs perfectly.

    • harpie says:


      It was sometime after the Republican Convention. I think Mr. Trump was displeased with the press reports regarding the platform change, the confusion around the communications of that […]

      So, on July 31, 2016, Trump talked to George Stephanopoulos:
      ‘This Week’ Transcript: Donald Trump […]

      [6:00] STEPHANOPOULOS: Then why did you soften the GOP platform on Ukraine?
      TRUMP: I wasn’t involved in that. Honestly [bwahaha], I was not involved.
      STEPHANOPOULOS: Your people were.
      TRUMP: Yes. [Here, he actually says yeah, not yes] I was not involved in that. I’d like to — I’d have to take a look at it. But I was not involved in that.
      STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you know what they did?
      TRUMP: They softened it, I heard, but I was not involved.
      STEPHANOPOULOS: They took away the part of the platform calling for the provision of lethal weapons to Ukraine to defend themselves.
      Why is that a good idea?
      TRUMP: Well, look, you know, I have my own ideas. He’s not going into Ukraine, OK?
      [… spouts Putin’s talking points …]
      STEPHANOPOULOS: You said you have no investments in Russia.
      But do you owe any money to Russian individuals and institutions?
      TRUMP: No. Not.

  12. Vicks says:

    Manafort+Barrack=America Now Super-pac
    = Explanation to Trump’s head scratching responses to some middle eastern countries?

  13. esmewrites says:

    I’m going to vote spin…un-credible comments like: trump being concerned about anything being messy; appropriateness of anyone in the admin has never been a concern – feature not a bug; trump wanting to be aware of anything inappropriate – ignorance is often an excuse for their bad behavior.

    p.s., thanks for keeping us smart and sane!

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