Paul Manafort Knew Tom Barrack Was Working with “Our Friends”

As I noted yesterday, Tom Barrack’s (known — there may have been a second) Mueller interview revealed what his indictment didn’t say explicitly: Paul Manafort was working with Barrack on a Trump energy speech at issue in the indictment. That suggests that one thing Manafort did for one of the guys that got him hired (the other was Roger Stone) was to cater campaign policy to him.

The complaint originally charged against alleged Barrack co-conspirator Rashid Al Malik on June 25, 2019 (obtained just five days after the FBI interviewed Barrack on these issues, which — according to the new indictment — would have alerted them that Barrack was trying to hide this relationship) provides more detail on Manafort’s role in that energy speech and other events relating to Barrack’s ties to UAE.

Even before the energy speech, for example, on May 1, 2016 Barrack emailed Manafort from Abu Dhabi where he was meeting with Mohamed bin Zayed.

On or about May 1, 2016, [Barrack] emailed a senior member of the Campaign ([Manafort]): “I am in Abu Dhabi with [MbZ]. Call if u can.” Later that day, [Barrack] emailed [Manafort] with an upbeat assessment of the meeting and mentioned the possibility of a meeting in the United States between the UAE leaders and [Trump].

Once Trump wrapped up his primary win on May 4, Barrack wrote Al Malik and told him to tell MbZ to “Pack his bags,” presumably for a visit to the US to meet with Trump (which may suggest that on this matter, as with the Russian one, Trump’s handlers tried to delay controversial meetings until after he sealed the nomination). Al Malik said that MbZ would meet with the two of them the next month when — he incorrectly anticipated — MbZ would be in the US to meet with Trump. The day Al Malik made that prediction, Barrack, “met with several senior members of the Campaign that same day in New York City.” Given Barrack’s past and future relationship with Jared Kushner, his meetings with people beyond Manafort (if even he met with Manafort) are of interest.

In the complaint, the language on the draft speech is far more detailed than in the indictment, possibly even consistent with Barrack writing the entire first draft of the speech, then sharing it with “him” (the complaint isn’t sure whether that’s a reference to Trump or Manafort).

The next day, May 14, 2016, after Al Malik asked for a specific mention of MbZ in it, Barrack and Manafort discussed whether to keep specific mention of MbZ and a Saudi (probably Mohammed bin Salman) in the speech.

[Barrack] wrote to [Manafort]: “How did you like the energy paper[?] I thought I did a really good job. The only sensitive part is whether you want to name [the senior UAE and KSA government officials] by name. But I think it would be a good idea.” [Manafort] replied: “I left their names in the draft.” [italicized brackets original, the others mine]

Six days later, Manafort wrote back complaining that, “It has become a more political speech but there is reference to working with our allies regarding energy policy.” After reading the “America First” speech as written, Barrack described it as “novice and imbecilic,” then said, “[H]e better figure out a way to get one paragraph to balance foreign-policy concerns for energy dependent allies in the gulf.” Later that day, Manafort wrote Barrack, “Send me an insert that works for our friends. I will push to get it included.” Barrack did send language, to which Manafort responded, “I am working to have paragraph added.”

When Barrack sent Al Malik the speech without the specific mention of MbZ the next day and Al Malik complained that it had been pulled, Barrack explained, “Delicate time. [MbZ] should have come!”

On May 26, Manafort sent Barrack the speech calling it the likely final version, and assuring Barrack that, “It has the language you want.”

To be clear, Manafort has not been charged and there’s no reason to believe he will be. But it shows he both knew what Barrack was up to, and was happy to use his position to facilitate foreign influence peddling.

35 replies
  1. ThomasH says:

    As you point out, Manafort may not be charged; but is he vulnerable to being charged as being an unregistered agent for foreign government? Thank you again for teasing out all of these intricacies for me. Empthwheel is the first thing I look at when I start my day.

  2. timbo says:

    In a quick search, all I could find was the document where Trump gave Manafort his pardon for things he was found guilty of. What was the actual wording from the Pardon Attorney’s office for Manafort? Note that here:

    that the clemency record PDF is not shown, just Trump’s signing document authorizing the issue of a pardon (to be drafted by the Pardon Attorney). Anyone have a link to the actual final official pardon document as issued by the Pardon Attorney? Or is this it? If this is it then Manafort certainly isn’t off the hook for other crimes he may be charged with (as far as I can tell).

    • Peterr says:

      That’s it, and yes, it only gets Manafort’s earlier conviction and sentence eliminated. It does nothing to protect him from further charges that might be brought in the future.

      From Marcy: “Manafort has not been charged and there’s no reason to believe he will be.”

      True, although I’d add one word: yet.

      If the DOJ is leaning on Barrack to get at Trump, they might be leaning on Manafort for the same reason. “Gosh, Paul, did you hear about poor Tom Barrack? He could be in a world of hurt here. In fact, the more we look at this, it’s got folks wondering if you could be in a world of hurt here too. Anything you’d like to share with me, that might alleviate that hurt?”

  3. yogarhythms says:

    TB is charged and drafted a portion of T’s energy speech. Paulie pushed a drafted portion favorable to “our friends” to be included in T’s energy speech. Paulie gets a pass. True he did a small bit at Club Fed. Second time around might be different. Hope springs eternal.

  4. Pete Shanks says:

    Can Manafort be completed to testify? And if he then lies, and the Feds can prove it, can he not be re-arrested, re-tried and re-jailed?

    • Peterr says:

      He can be subpoenaed, and he can assert his fifth amendment rights to not incriminate himself.

      IANAL, but I feel confident that Manafort will not say anything to the FBI or anyone else other than “I refuse to answer, claiming my fifth amendment privilege. Now pound sand.”

      OK, maybe not the “pound sand” part, but he’d be thinking that.

  5. TooLoose LeTruck says:


    Politico is reporting that Barrack had to post $250MM for bail, including $5MM cash…

    I have to say, until the last few days, I had never even heard that name before, and I follow politics pretty closely…

    $250 MILLION for bail? My jaw… it dropped…

    I don’t recall ever hearing of a bail bond of THAT magnitude before.

    I don’t know if i’m being simplistic here, or just… naive… but that says two things to me…

    One, the charges are pretty serious and two, Barrack is considered a serious flight risk.

    And is there any chance this is getting closer to Trump now?

  6. skua says:

    The jarring disconnect between the “our allies in the M.E.” and the rest of the speech would have functioned as a giant flashing neon signed reading,
    “Trump is open to influence – see Paulie at the back door to get your dreams put in motion”,
    to those wanting access to US goverment policy and to influence US government decisions.

    R. Murdoch’s support for Trump never waivered even when the flashing neon sign accouncing Trump as a Corrupt Nominee was lit up.

    • TooLoose LeTruck says:

      A flashing neon sign?

      You’d certainly think so…

      Even before Trump declared himself a candidate, I had always associated
      him with organized crime and Russian money laundering… the rumors were there for years before then…

      And once he was actually running, it seemed like there was a steady drip-drip-drip of unsettling information…

      A secret server in Trump Tower… Paul Manafort’s serious ties to Ukrainian oligarchs… that time the verbiage in the Republican Party platform somehow mysteriously changed to favor Russia over Ukraine and no one knew how it happened… Michael Flynn turning up at that photo right next to Putin at a dinner in Moscow…

      All along, I never understood why the GOP didn’t run like hell from Trump…

      • Zirc says:

        “All along, I never understood why the GOP didn’t run like hell from Trump…”

        Because the base was voting for him. . . at least in sufficient numbers that no one else would beat him for the nomination. After he got that, it’s just the standard GQP move of doing anything to get and maintain power.


        • TooLoose LeTruck says:

          The base wasn’t really the base yet, back in late 2015 into 2016… I understand the GQP is all about power and control… I was just astonished at the time why the party didn’t avoid getting so sucked in by someone who so looked like a career criminal even then…

          But then, I remember watching him at debates, and the other candidates – Rubio, Jeb Bush, Christie, you name the individual – did come across as weak, low energy, squishy…

          And it wasn’t just the lack of pushback by the GOP… the mainstream media never really followed up on so many of the data points that were right out there in plain sight either…

          Since then, yeah, the GQP’s rolled over and played dead for him… and the base is indeed the base… howling a the moon, bats ass insane…

          Isn’t that what al-Qaeda translates as from the Arabic… ‘the base’?

        • P J Evans says:

          The media was so attached to the narrative they wanted to see, and then the “horserace” that they love, to really look at the R candidates the way they should have.

        • TooLoose LeTruck says:

          Yeah, I agree w/ that assessment completely…

          I’ve paid closer attention the last couple of years to what our so-called ‘mainstream’ media actually says and it’s rather both disappointing and galling by turns…

          Not to mention detrimental to the country…

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          What the mainstream media did in the 2016 race was worse than blinkered “horse race” coverage. That merely indicated a lack of imagination. In fact the biggest players (in both reach and prestige) demonstrably chased the ratings/profits that Trump coverage promised. Now they would have you believe that they kept a cool eye. When the media’s history during that campaign is fully told, we’ll see this generation’s version of Judith Miller spread across many shiny newsrooms, with nothing at stake but democracy.

        • subtropolis says:

          “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS!”
          – Les Moonves, former chairman of CBS, on the Trump campaign coverage

  7. Rusty Austin says:

    Bail for this traitor should not have been granted at any price. The judge that signed off on this needs to lose his job now.

    • bmaz says:

      Listen, stop saying ignorant stuff like this. Barrack is NOT a traitor, and all defendants should be given bail pre trial if humanly possible. Frankly the amount of his bail is insanely and unconscionably high as it is. This is not a forum for know nothing string em up comments, so don’t do that here.

  8. Peterr says:

    The two considerations for bail are “danger to the community” and “risk of flight.” The latter is the prime consideration for Barrack, in the judge’s eyes. Bail is supposed to be designed to insure that the accused shows up for trial, and thus is seems to me that it has to be set with the financial resources of the accused in mind. In Barrack’s case, making it painful for him to skip out means that bail had to be set very very high (along with turning in his passport and wearing an ankle monitor). By contrast, if it was me on trial, you could lop off a bunch of zeros and still make it very painful for me to skip out.

    Am I right, bmaz, that bail amounts are as much (or more) a function of the resources of the defendant as the crime that they are accused of committing?

    • bmaz says:

      No. The monetary amount in Barracks’s case is fucking insane. I have never, and I mean NEVER, seen that kind of amount. It is ludicrous.

      • Peterr says:

        The personal wealth of Barrack is something that also falls into the insane category. The biggest bail amounts that I have seen are all attached to people with vast amounts of money at their disposal.

        If $250M is too high, where would a hypothetical Judge Bmaz have put the bail amount?

        • bmaz says:

          Naw, the wealth of people like Bezos, Gates, Musk etc. is insane, Barrack is a piker relative to them.

          What is really insane is how crazed people have gotten over considering pre-trial release to be be punishment because they do like the defendant. Is Barrack a physical danger to society? No, of course not. Is he a flight risk? I would argue not that either.

          The fever dreams people conjure up are just ludicrous. He can jet off to Aruba! To Jamaica! To somewhere! It is not that easy nor lucrative. And if Tom Barrack is really a world mastermind like Ernst Blofeld, he can still get away, so this is all so much nonsense.

          And it is truly destructive to common defendants. When people cheaply root for this, they are propagating harsh bail conditions for even the smallest and most common defendant. The very same people who, on another day, whinge about the carceral state and whatnot.

          What would judge bmaz have imposed as release conditions? $10 mil cash bond, surrender of all passports and electronic monitoring. Note, this is actually harsher than what was imposed, because while all the internet clackers don’t know realize it, Barrack, by my understanding, only had to post $5mil cash and the rest is on the come line with potential property seizure. It is STILL hurtful for other and future defendants, and the bloodlust of some of the commenters here somewhat sickening.

        • Eureka says:

          bmaz is chartering a jet to take us all to Kokomo!?! Why thanks that is quite generous and just what we need. Cheers **clink**

          #vaccinationisland #quarantineatthebar

        • bmaz says:

          Okay. There is good news and bad news. Am willing to fly all of us to take Caribbean vacation. The bad news is that I am not currently rated for jets (nor anything else at this point, forget the past). The even further worse news is, my favorite place down there is St. Barths. Here is their airport. Trust me, that runway is shorter than it looks.

        • Eureka says:

          Fine — Bermuda Triangle it is!

          #Caribbeanisoverratedanyway (except for when it’s not)

          Excellent plan, you fly us and in parallel I will teach all (surviving) who need know how to dive (not certified as an instructor; rusty; better rent that equipment ahead: we all know what happens to old o-rings and such …).

          But seriously that is a short runway and I remember seeing some film of landings there — whew.

          Of our island and island-like destinations, came to prefer the Caribbean side of Mexico (food and drink better and more affordable, besides).

          At this point any sand would do.

      • TooLoose LeTruck says:


        So there’s the answer I was looking for…

        “Fucking insane’…

        It does seem… rather… extreme…

        I can’t help wonder what’s behind the judge’s decision…

  9. Marji Campbell says:

    So, regarding surrendering his passport. If he has a private jet, would anything stop him from flying over to UAE, which I believe is a non-extradition country? Even with the ankle GPS, could they monitor that closely and stop him in time?

    • bmaz says:

      Seriously?? Yes, what is to separate him from Hanibal Lechter and eating people’s faces? This is ridiculous. Do you believe in the Constitutional presumption of innocence and presumption of bail, or just some scary bullshit?

      • bmaz says:

        Also, please do not be ridiculous. Due process is not a captive creature of fever dreams such as yours. Your dreams should hope that the dreams as a legal system are built on better than that.

  10. timbo says:

    Has Malik been spotted anywhere in the recent days/weeks? Can’t find any info on that in a quick look on the web…

  11. J R in WV says:

    I wonder if they confiscated his Lebanese passport as well as his American Passport? Did they get the keys to the private Jet as well?

    He could probably just walk through JFK Tuesday evening with his Lebanese passport and get on an Emirates jetliner in first class, actually. And why not?

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