CNN’s John Avlon on Wednesday explained how the current Ukraine scandal engulfing the Trump White House actually started last decade, when former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort started working as a lobbyist in the former Soviet republic.
Looking at all the information we know about Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, Avlon summed up how many events over the past several years have finally come to a head.
“Let’s start with Trump’s former campaign manager,” he began. “Right now Paul Manafort is in federal prison, but more than a decade ago, he riding high in Ukraine as a political Svengali for a pro-Putin Ukrainian president — somehow managing to pull in $60 million in a country where the average salary is just 200 bucks!”
Avlon then explained how the corrupt pro-Putin government created a chaotic situation for Ukraine, which is what pushed multiple Western governments to urge the country to fire former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, who was seen as unwilling to prosecute corruption cases that might expose the nation’s political elites.
It was shortly after Shokin’s dismissal, Avlon said, that Trump brought Manafort onto his campaign. And it appears that Manafort’s subsequent arrest and conviction on multiple counts of tax and bank fraud over his work in Ukraine was what helped convince Trump to buy into the bogus conspiracy theory that it was really Ukraine that hacked the Democratic National Committee in 2016.
“There’s still a lot of light that needs to come out,” Avlon said. “But at the end of the day, there’s only one winner in this twisted tale, and his name is Vladimir Putin. Same as it ever was.”
Watch the video below.
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"The phrase that she used to describe [E.U. Ambassador Gordon] Sondland's mission, a 'domestic political errand,' a lot of people have said that was a big takeaway from today, that sort of encapsulated what was going on here," said Cooper. "Does she agree?"
"Well, yeah," said Wolosky. "As she testified to, I think that what she began to notice is that, in fact, this really wasn't an irregular or shadow foreign policy effort, as some people have called it. It was actually domestic politics. She was doing national security, as were others, and foreign policy, and Sondland and Giuliani were taking steps to advance the political interests of the president. And I think that what she crystallized is how pernicious it can be when our national security and when our foreign policy decision making is basically co-opted or held hostage to the individual political interests of one individual."