Paul Manafort: Swamp Thing

Donald Trump briefly hired this corrupt RINO hack to stop other RINOs from stealing the nomination.

By Patrick Howard Flynn Published on September 19, 2018

The media treated Paul Manafort’s conviction as proof of Donald Trump’s personal corruption and evidence that he will soon be impeached. The pundits are right about one thing: It is a huge indictment … of the corrupt political establishment that President Trump threatens to destroy.

The perfect example of this genre came in an op-rant in Saturday’s New York Times. Former Bush-43 speechwriter Peter Wehner cited the Manafort conviction as proof that Trump is “the most thoroughly and comprehensively corrupt individual who has ever been elected president.”

“The History of Our Lifetime”

Wehner wasn’t the only one to get the vapors. Manafort’s indictment left Joe Scarborough so light-headed that he rambled about Trump’s presidency being “the most corrupt administration in the history of our lifetime.”

We have to remember who Paul Manafort is, why Donald Trump brought him into the campaign, and what he tells us about the rest of the grifters and con men in charge of Washington’s insider game.

Remember, these are “mainstream” Republicans and “centrists,” not nameless Resistance bloggers.

Of course, media coverage was worse. “Trump surrounded himself with advisers who committed crimes,” declared the prestigious Atlantic magazine. “Trump himself encouraged his advisers to flout the law,” it added, with no proof.

For Trump to encourage Manafort’s lawbreaking, he would need to juice up the DeLorean to 1.21 gigawatts. Manafort committed these eight crimes as a pillar of the Republican Establishment who helped RINOs beat back candidates who represented average people — people like the ones who voted for Donald Trump.

To get at the real meaning of the Manafort indictments, we have to remember who Paul Manafort is, why Donald Trump brought him into the campaign, and what he tells us about the rest of the grifters and con men in charge of Washington’s insider game.

Paul Manafort: The RINO from the Swamp

Manafort first made a name for himself as a delegate-hunter helping Gerald Ford defeat Ronald Reagan at the 1976 convention. Ford/Bush loyalist James A. Baker III mentored the 27-year-old Manafort into the old hand for the RINO establishment he’s been ever since then.

Manafort had plenty of influence to peddle, thanks to the GOP Establishment.

The Ford campaign taught him how politicians get ahead by pampering insiders with taxpayer-funded perks. “You bring an uncommitted delegate to a dinner for the Queen of England, and it’s a fairly persuasive argument,” Baker said. Reagan could offer a dinner with Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne. But Ford could give them a one-in-one with the president and vice president over cocktails in the East Room. Or a sit-down with royalty. “A popular joke at the time about the patronage and favors dispensed by the White House” to delegates “was that when Ford stepped off Air Force One, the band did not know whether to play ‘Hail to the Chief’ or ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,’” the New York Times reported.   

The Deep State Gravy Train

When Reagan tapped George Bush as his vice president, Baker saw to it that Manafort hitched a ride on the Deep State gravy train. Manafort got a piece of the 1980 and 1984 campaigns. And the Bush people talked Reagan into appointing Manafort to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a crony institution that shuffles U.S. taxpayers’ funds to well-connected corporations.

Then, he went into the lobbying business full-time. “During [Reagan’s] transition to power, [Manafort] was the personnel coordinator in the Office of Executive Management, which meant that he’d stacked the incoming government with his people,” The Atlantic reported. Now he planned to come calling.

A critic called his firm an “institutionalized conflict-of-interest” — but it definitely suited his interests. His clients had special rules written into the 1986 tax code worth tens of millions of dollars.

Manafort also won a $31 million HUD contract — for a firm that he owned. When confronted, Manafort told Congress point-blank, “You could characterize this as influence-peddling.”

Manafort had plenty of influence to peddle, thanks to the GOP Establishment. “Paul’s not especially ideological,” his former partner, conservative Charlie Black, would say. That won him dearly with the Bush/Ford/Dole wing of the party.

During the Bush administration, Secretary of State “Baker would send the firm clients,” according to Peter Kelly, the Democratic partner in Manafort’s new firm.

Helping Drug Smugglers, Silencing Pro-Lifers

Embarrassing press got Manafort banned from the 1992 convention. He’d developed a reputation for representing anti-Communist thugs and crooks. But his firm sold its services to the Bahamas at a time when it allowed drugs to move freely into U.S. cities. The brochure promised the partners’ “personal relationships” with “Department of State officials” could “be utilized to upgrade a back-channel relationship.” That was too much during the “Just Say No” era.

But by 1996, he was back. Manafort ran the GOP convention in San Diego for the ultimate RINO insider, Bob Dole … and against the ultimate conservative outsider, Pat Buchanan. In his new role, Manafort stressed that “the party will tolerate opposing views on a variety of issues,” especially abortion.

“We don’t think that platform week is going to be ‘abortion week,’” Manafort said. Instead, it “will be more an opportunity for us to talk about some of the bigger issues,” like “over-regulation.”

Those sorts of hot-button issues helped Bob Dole lose the race by 8 million votes.

In another parallel, the ’96 convention chose as keynote speaker the pro-abortion Congresswoman Susan Molinari. Manafort said she “represents a lot of the future” of the GOP. (She resigned from Congress less than a year later.) Some 20 years later, Manafort defended inviting a gay defender of same-sex marriage, Peter Thiel, to speak. “This is an open tent party,” Manafort said.

But why was Manafort in the hall in Cleveland, anyway? Because Donald Trump was fighting even more corrupt Republicans.

Stopping Bill Kristol’s Coup

Manafort’s political career ended the same way it began: stopping a candidate with fewer votes from claiming the Republican presidential nomination. Unlike the convention 40 years earlier, 2016 wasn’t even close.

The Establishment was going to steal the nomination from Trump – and from the people. So, Trump hired someone who subverted democracy in other countries to stop politicians from subverting democracy in America. He paid slightly higher dollar to the one Swamp figure who put money above everything else: Paul Manafort.

Donald Trump crushed his 16 rivals in the primaries, but other people kept piling up delegates.

Bill Kristol sketched out the plan live on television: Party insiders would deny Trump a majority of delegates. Then, at a brokered convention, they would nominate someone like John Kasich.

Kasich may have been a perfectly competent candidate — but voters never gave him that option. And almost two-thirds of Republicans thought it was wrong to steal the convention from Trump if he had the most votes.

Kristol admitted his gambit would lose the Republican nominee the presidential election. And he admitted he didn’t care. The Big Government wing of the party would rule or ruin the Republicans.

The Establishment was going to steal the election from Trump — and from the people. So Trump hired someone who subverted democracy in other countries to stop politicians from subverting democracy in America. He paid slightly higher dollars to the one Swamp figure who put money above everything else: Paul Manafort.

Ditching the Trump Loyalists

Manafort’s first move in the campaign was to shove aside Trump’s loyal campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. Sure, Lewandowski had been with Trump from the beginning. He believed in Trump’s “America First” message. And he had worked for Bob Ney in the kind of Ohio congressional district that would propel Trump into the White House.

But as soon as Manafort wormed his way into the top spot, things changed. He started reassuring the Republican National Committee members they would see a different Donald Trump. He told GOP power brokers that Trump would trade in his mass campaign rallies in flyover country to read wonky speeches off teleprompters in “formal settings.”

Remaking Trump as Kasich

And he would change his tone. “The negatives are going to come down,” Manafort said. As a campaign manager, he insisted, “You can change the way somebody presents themselves.”

If Manafort wouldn’t give the Establishment Kasich, he’d do the next best thing: He’d turn Trump into Kasich.

Trump bristled – and he gave the real power in the campaign to Kellyanne Conway.

A Short Expiration Date

The final straw for Trump came when he learned of Manafort’s corrupt foreign lobbying — at least, according to that right-wing rag, The Washington Post. Trump read about Manafort’s history and “blew a gasket,” an insider told the paper. The campaign asked Manafort to resign, and he did.

Far from establishing that Trump is a crook, Paul Manafort’s conviction proves how despicable, corrupt, and ethically bankrupt the D.C. Establishment is.

Trump wouldn’t have associated with Manafort at all, if the RINOs had not plotted to deny their own voters the nominee they selected. To stop them, Trump reached into the Establishment and fished out Manafort, one of their own. And he fired Manafort the minute he learned about his shady foreign deals.

If Manafort is the one person willing to give the voters their own voice, how much more corrupt is the rest of the D.C. power machine?

Protect the Swamp by Selling Manafort Down the River

To illustrate just how run-of-the-mill Manafort’s corruption is in D.C., let’s take a look at his former partner, Rick Davis. The two founded Davis Manafort in 1995. Their firm was “in the deal business,” Davis said. “The thing I love is that the political elites and the economic elites in every other country but the United States of America are the same.” In other words, there’s no pesky middle class to persuade. The people “running the elections are the richest people in the country, who own all the assets.” That also makes it easier for lobbyists to cash in.

Their firm, Davis Manafort, soon took on the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska as a client. Davis convinced the 2006 World Economic Forum to let Deripaska attend and showed him around. Deripaska did Davos with Davis.

Davis managed an independence vote in Montenegro that Deripaska funded, in the hopes of taking over the country’s aluminum business.

Davis had a hand in the housing collapse, raking in $15,000 a month from mortgage giant Freddie Mac. His job was to support its easy mortgage policies that triggered the 2008 collapse and the Great Recession. It was some deal, since sources said Davis did nothing to earn his fee. “Freddie Mac has had no contact with Davis Manafort other than receiving monthly invoices from the firm and paying them,” reported Newsweek. (The story broke in 2008, when Newsweek was still a news magazine.)

All in all, Davis had a pretty sweet run in “the deal business.” But there’s something more to remember.

Davis did all this between stints as manager of John McCain’s two presidential campaigns.

Buying Influence with John McCain

As a matter of fact, that was Davis’ calling card — and his meal ticket. A source told Newsweek that Freddie Mac kept paying Davis, because “he was John McCain’s campaign manager and it was felt you couldn’t say no.” They were buying influence in case McCain won the 2008 election.

Davis even introduced Deripaska to McCain in what the Russian described as an “intimate” setting.

McCain also paid almost $1 million to a side venture the Davis and Manafort set up called 3eDC, an online communications company. So, McCain was a patron of their political and “private sector” work. 

How does the Republican Establishment look at that? Peter Wehner told MSNBC that John McCain “was heroic in politics, too.” McCain “is such a stark contrast to the person in the White House now, who is as best I can tell is a person who has absolutely no interest in honor and integrity.”

He’s right that there’s a massive difference: Manafort worked as Trump’s campaign chairman for three months to the day. McCain made Davis his top adviser for years.

The Revenge of the Swamp Creatures

If John McCain — the paragon of virtue as far as D.C. is concerned — can sink this low, how murky is the rest of the Swamp?

We know it is well-populated. One-quarter of all representatives defeated in the 2014 midterms became lobbyists.

If McCain is the gold standard of ethics, imagine how corrupt that makes the rest of the government/lobbying nexus.

Far from establishing that Trump is a crook, Paul Manafort’s conviction proves how despicable, corrupt, and ethically bankrupt the D.C. Establishment is.

Think of John Boehner, the anti-Communist prude who now peddles influence as a lobbyist for China and legalizing marijuana. Or Tony Podesta, who made half-a-million dollars representing a Chinese firm that sold banned technology to Iran. Maybe Eric Cantor, who is a lobbyist without having to register as a lobbyist. Or Christopher Steele, who pushed the fake Russian dossier at the same time he reportedly worked as a contractor for … Oleg Deripaska.

Yes, the Deep State is trying to run Trump out of office for second-hand connections to a figure in the Kremlin. And the man who compiled the dossier they’re using worked for the same figure in the Kremlin.

No one wants that getting out, or anyone who will shut down their cozy racket from getting into office. To save the Swamp, Manafort will be sent up the river. And Trump is being tarred for the corruption his enemies in the D.C. establishment enabled, expanded, and hope to reinstate.

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