The mainstream media’s Trump/Russian collusion narrative took another loss Monday after Bob Mueller released his indictments for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates.
Manafort has been accused of a list of white-collar crimes committed prior to joining the Trump team, but nothing that shows Trump guilty of anything more than a bad hiring decision. In fact, the probe is now revealing a concerning relationship with Manafort, Tony Podesta’s pro-Clinton lobbying firm, and pro-Putin Ukrainian officials.
Manafort was brought on to the Trump campaign on March 29, 2016, to lead convention delegate-corralling efforts. As an experienced Republican strategist who led nomination fights in the past, Trump trusted him to secure a tactical victory. But the relationship quickly ended when Manafort was told to resign in August 2016 after the NYT learned he received money from a pro-Russian political party in the Ukraine.
Now, we are learning that Manafort and Rick Gates introduced The Podesta Group and another lobbying firm, Mercury LLC, to the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. Manafort organized a public relations campaign involving The Podesta Group, making contact with Hillary Clinton’s State Department, the National Security Council, and the office of former Vice President Joe Biden, in order to promote the image of the pro-Russian administration. The lobbying group never registered as a foreign agent, raising the question of whether the firm violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
Recall that in January 2017, Politico published a report alleging that Democratic officials worked with Ukraine to boost Clinton and smear Trump. As a result, the Podesta Group was later subpoenaed by Mueller in August. Amid reports of Manafort’s indictments today, Tony Podesta has stepped down from his lobbying firm.
As we learn more about the Podestas’ involvement with the Ukrainians in interfering with our elections, we may soon find out if the Russian/Trump collusion accusations have been smoke and mirrors made to distract from another Clinton conspiracy that grows by the day.