Just How Deep Do Trump and Manafort’s Putin Underworld Ties Go?

I’m going to let Martin Longman do the deep dive on Trump’s campaign manager Manafort tomorrow, but this story on Manafort’s secret $12.5 million dollar payout from corrupt Ukrainian despot Yanukovych is mind-boggling:

And Mr. Manafort’s presence remains elsewhere here in the capital, where government investigators examining secret records have found his name, as well as companies he sought business with, as they try to untangle a corrupt network they say was used to loot Ukrainian assets and influence elections during the administration of Mr. Manafort’s main client, former President Viktor F. Yanukovych.

Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.

Trump’s former manager Corey Lewandowski wasted no time in throwing gasoline onto the tire fire:

And the Clinton campaign responded quickly:

“We have learned of more troubling connections between Donald Trump’s team and pro-Kremlin elements in Ukraine,” Mook said in the statement. “Given the pro-Putin policy stances adopted by Donald Trump and the recent Russian government hacking and disclosure of Democratic Party records, Donald Trump has a responsibility to disclose campaign chair Paul Manafort’s and all other campaign employees’ and advisers’ ties to Russian or pro-Kremlin entities, including whether any of Trump’s employees or advisers are currently representing and or being paid by them.”

I’m personally more concerned about the radicalization and subversion of democracy in Turkey than by what’s happening in Russia, and I do believe that our working to subvert Russia (e.g., by kowtowing to Erdogan in Turkey, acting at cross-purposes in Syria or by promoting fracking in Europe) is doing more harm than good in the world.  Furthermore, I’m a proudly self-described post-Westphalian transhumanist socialist who sees jingoistic nationalism as morally equivalent to racism, sexism and every other form of prejudice exercised between human beings.

So I’d be the last person to start freaking out about whether another country might be meddling in American affairs, since I believe the fate of the world rests on eventually erasing the barriers that exist between nation-states.

But still. How much does Trump and his team need to do before we start asking serious questions about whether they’re a Manchurian Candidate campaign actively working on behalf of a foreign nation? Trump’s campaign manager is deep in with Putin cronies, the Putin regime is very likely behind the hacking on Democratic organizations to benefit Trump, his campaign worked to soften anti-Putin and anti-Russia language in the GOP platform, and his finances and investments are enmeshed with Russian cronies–which may be a key reason why he refuses to release his tax returns.

Can you imagine what Fox News and Rush Limbaugh would be saying if these things were true of a Democratic candidate for president? They would be openly demanding a trial for treason and using “Rosenberg” as a nickname.

It’s astonishing what the Republican Party has been reduced to, and just how unprecedented this campaign has become.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.