Watching the fallout all day from Special Investigator Robert Mueller’s charges against former Trump campaign official Paul Manafort (12 in all, including outright conspiracy) and his deputy Rick Gates, there’s been a nagging feeling.
It’s a feeling that the Trump Team has known almost everything Mueller is alleging about Manafort for a long time. Well, at least as far back as August 2016, when Manafort was forced to cut ties with the campaign.
That feeling got downright itchy once the story of George Papadopoulos broke, a man White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed as a volunteer who kept trying to offer his services during Trump’s presidential campaign but never really played much of a role in that effort.
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty, by the way, to lying to FBI investigators regarding a meeting he said he had with a foreign agent regarding “dirt” on Hillary Rodham Clinton.
It’s that nugget that the left is clinging to when it comes to “proof” that the Trump campaign sought to collude with Russia to besmirch Clinton’s campaign and help Trump win. Papadopoulos’ role comes much later than the Manafort/Gates infractions, with theirs occurring years before the Trump campaign even existed. But Papadopoulos supposed meeting (that possibly never happened) conveniently occurred during the 2016 campaign.
So if Manafort’s/Gates’ alleged crimes happened before the campaign, and it’s proven that Papadopoulos’ lied about the one thing that might show even the slightest bit of collusion between Trump/Russia to the detriment of Hillary (and he’s pleaded guilty to lying about it, remember), what exactly is Mueller investigating here?
Well, that’s an interesting question. Since Democrat lobbyist Tony Podesta, founder of the Podesta Group — and brother of Clinton campaign chair and confidant John, whose associations with that family are long, deep, and financially impressive — stepped down from his group today, that’s likely where the real fun starts:
The investigation into Podesta and his firm grew out of investigators’ examination of Manafort’s finances. Manafort organized a PR campaign on behalf of a nonprofit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. Podesta Group was one of several firms that were paid to do work on the PR campaign to promote Ukraine in the U.S.
Podesta Group filed paperwork with the Justice Department in April stating that it had done work for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine that also benefited the same Ukrainian political party that Manafort once advised. Podesta Group said at the time it believed its client was a European think tank untethered to a political party.
Then, of course, there’s this:
That’s right. The same group that is being investigated for its work with a Ukrainian political party that is tied to conspiracy charges related to Manafort also has some pretty hefty ties to the Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama Uranium One deal with Putin that essentially worked to help the Russian President attain a rather large foothold in uranium mining in the Western US via a Canadian uranium company.
Is that significant? I don’t know. No one does. But Tucker Carlson apparently has a source — a former senior employee of the Podesta Group — that alleges just that:
The source said the Podesta Group was in regular contact with Manafort while Hillary Clinton was America’s chief diplomat.
In 2013, the group hired away one of Clinton’s deputies, David Adams, effectively establishing contact between the Washington firm and Clinton’s office in Foggy Bottom, D.C.
The source said Tony Podesta spoke regularly with Clinton and was the one who personally hired Adams.
During this time, the Uranium One deal was being facilitated by the White House.
According to Carlson, “Manafort was clear that Russia wanted to cultivate ties to Hillary” because she appeared to be the presumptive 45th president.
Carlson said the media’s description of the probe being focused on Trump as an individual is “mostly bogus” if the source’s explanation pans out.
Given that this kind of influence peddling is one that the Clinton Foundation is increasingly thought to have been involved in, this kind of interference into the 2016 US electoral system starts to make more sense than election hacking and ad buys trying to make Hillary look bad.
And it’s worth remembering it hasn’t been but a few days ago that the WSJ was calling for Trump to fire Mueller due to the this:
…[E]ven as Hillary Clinton’s State Department in 2010 approved a deal that transferred control of more than 20% of America’s uranium supply to a Russian company. The Hill also reported the FBI had documents showing that during this period Russia engineered the transmission of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation.
The FBI director at the time: Robert Mueller, now special counsel in charge of investigating “Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election and related matters.”
So, circling back: just what is this investigator, implicated as he is in looking the other way at a controversial, possibly scandalous, deal between Hillary/Obama and Putin, actually investigating?