The White House is trying to pretend like they don’t even know Paul Manafort at this point. In a hilarious segment during last week’s Rachel Maddow Show, the host couldn’t help but notice that anyone disgraced suddenly gets the full Trump pariah treatment.
“Fike Mynn?” Maddow joked about the disgraced retired general. “Flyke mint? Mike Finn? We didn’t really think of him as the national security adviser. He was more like a national security coat-check boy. He was a campaign volunteer, he volunteered for like a minute. He made coffee.”
The same has become true for Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, as the White House hurries to claim that Manafort was “dirty” before the campaign and after. The argument ignores the fact that Trump didn’t care about Manafort being “dirty” when he hired the man.
However, the die has been cast and the White House won’t be able to run from the likes of Gates and Manafort. Here are four stories that show why:
FBI agents began looking into the financial dealings of Paul Manafort long ago, but in doing so, Manafort produced the trail of emails that linked Donald Trump Jr. to the meeting with the Russian lawyer promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
Federal investigators were examining the possibility that Manafort laundered money from Russia and Eastern Europe through New York real estate, according to reports. Special counsel Robert Mueller began investigating those transactions, as well as purchases of Trump properties by wealthy Russians over the past decade. He reportedly also investigated fired national security adviser Mike Flynn.
“In fact, Manafort had alerted authorities to a controversial meeting on June 9, 2016, involving Trump’s son Donald Jr., other campaign representatives and a Russian lawyer promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton, according to people familiar with the matter,” Bloomberg reported. “The president and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, were dragged into the matter as details repeatedly emerged that contradicted the initial accounts of that meeting.”
Stolen text messages were obtained and posted on a darknet website in February by a group of civil hackers that show Manafort’s daughters were concerned about the ethical and safety consequences their father might face for work he was doing with Russia-backed leader Viktor Yanukovych, Politico reported.
“Don’t fool yourself,” Andrea Manafort wrote in March 2015. “That money we have is blood money.”
While the White House will no doubt claim they evicted those linked to alleged crimes, the reality is Rick Gates continued on well after Manafort was gone. In fact, Trump also continued to call Manafort and he provided advice on how to handle the Russia investigation long after he resigned as campaign chair.
Gates, who also worked with the same Russian oligarch who allegedly paid Manafort $10 million to tout Russian interests, led Trump’s super PAC America First Policies, which promotes Trump’s legislative agenda.
Gates was named the Trump campaign’s liaison to the Republican National Committee after the self-described billionaire sealed the GOP nomination. The move came just hours after Manafort was forced to resign from his position as campaign chair over alleged financial ties to Russia.
When working to decide who he wanted as his side, Trump was leaning toward Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ). However, Christie had a sketchy history with prosecuting the father of son-in-law and close advisor Jared Kushner.
Still, Trump flew to Indianapolis to meet with Pence. Campaign sources told The New York Post that Manafort told Trump his plane was having a mechanical problem and that they would be forced to spend the night in Indiana. Pence made his case for V.P. over dinner that night. Trump has a way of going along with the last person that speaks with him and the following day, Pence was named as the running-mate.
While Christie had been the perfect lapdog, Manafort and Trump’s two eldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric wanted Pence. Thanks to one of Manafort’s lies, they were all able to lobby him.