Disaster: Pic of Mueller Hanging With Ukrainian He's Prosecuting Manafort Over Surfaces


The Paul Manafort trial is in full swing, and may prove to be the first chance for special counsel Robert Mueller to prove he can secure a conviction. Things aren’t looking bad for Mueller so far, particularly since former Manafort aide Rick Gates has come out to say that he helped Manafort break the law.

The former Trump campaign manager stands accused of a number of crimes, including money laundering, failure to file reports of financial accounts overseas and acting as an unregistered foreign agent. Most of this has to do with work he did for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russia candidate.

The Mueller team has tried to use Manafort’s ties to Russia as part of a campaign of innuendo in the courtroom, a tactic that has drawn considerable irritation from the presiding judge. Among the things brought up by the prosecution are a loan from Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and financial accounts abroad controlled by Konstantin V. Kilimnik, who prosecutors allege has ties with Russian intelligence.

All of this, mind you, took place before Manafort became involved in the Trump campaign, where his tenure was roughly the amount of time it takes an avocado to get ripe. Let’s also note that Manafort — a former Reagan campaign worker and lobbyist — was mostly foisted upon Trump by the Republican establishment after the two sides came to the uncomfortable realization, at a late point in the primary process, that they were stuck with one another.

For a panoply of reasons, Trump quickly came to the conclusion that Manafort wasn’t the guy for him, leading to the hiring of Kellyanne Conway — a decidedly different kind of personality than Manafort’s Washington insider vibe.

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But, this isn’t necessarily about all of that, even though it’s important to know for our little story. It’s about Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

For fans of the theory that President Donald Trump is somehow a puppet of the Kremlin, Mr. Yanukovych figures heavily. In terms of the satellite regimes Vladimir Putin has tried to set up in post-Soviet states, Yanukovych’s was one of the most transparent. Before he was deposed as part of the Ukrainian revolution in 2014 he was as reliable a pro-Russia politician as any.

It’s ironic, then, that Robert Mueller is the individual whose special counsel investigation is tackling the case:

Do you think that Paul Manafort's case is politically motivated?

Regardless of how you feel about Mr. Posobiec and his promotion of various conspiracy theories, the point still bears making: Mueller worked with Yanukovych during his time as director of the FBI.

The meeting in Kiev took place two months after the Boston Marathon bombing, according to The Daily Beast, and centered around counterterrorism operations.

“Ukrainian-American cooperation efficiently develops in many spheres of mutual interest,” Yanukovych said during Mueller’s trip, according to a Facebook post from the time by the Ukraine Embassy.

“Your visit is very interesting for Ukraine and relations between our law enforcement bodies have established good traditions of cooperation and communication in the course of 20 years. I am confident that there is a potential for further broadening of cooperation.”

At the meeting, the Ukrainian leader said that he was very close to signing an agreement with the European Union.

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“There are some preparations left but I hope that we will fulfill everything and sign the agreement,” Yanukovych said during the meeting, according to The Daily Beast. The agreement, which The Daily Beast describes as “a key focus of Paul Manafort’s lobbying work for Yanukovych” — was never signed.

Now, what does this mean? On paper, nothing. Mueller was the director of the FBI at the time and the Ukraine had a role to play in anti-terror efforts. However, consider the fact that this is the very swampy world of Washington, where dealing with pro-Russia strongmen is just part of the landscape.

The optics for the Democrats here are terrible, though. After all, this is the guy who Manafort’s being charged with lobbying for in a case many Trump supporters feel is being used to try and tie the administration to the Kremlin. Yet, just five years ago — long after it was apparent to every single person who cared to know the fact that he was a Kremlin stooge — Yanukovych was okay to meet with for the director of the FBI under President Barack Obama.

This is just going to galvanize Trump supporters who believe that these charges are nothing more than a Hail Mary pass by a thoroughly bankrupt investigation.

On Monday, the judge in Manafort’s case told lead prosecutor Greg D. Andres that he didn’t want to hear any more speculation about why oligarchs might have wanted to pay the lobbyist for his advice, instead advising him — as The New York Times says the judge frequently has — to “go to the heart of the matter.”

“Judge, we have been at the heart of the matter,” Andres said, exasperated.

That’s the heart of the matter for the Mueller team, apparently — and it’s why so many Americans are so skeptical.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture