For those following the Russiagate witch hunt story very few are aware that Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign manager, and one time advisor to ousted pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukowych, has been under criminal and counter-intelligence investigation by multiple federal agencies (FBI, CIA, NSA, DNI, DOJ* and now Bob Mueller) since 2014 (see). And to date no investigator of any agency (including two separate Senate investigations*) has found so much as a smidgen of illegality or criminality in any of Manafort's political, financial and real estate dealings. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
- *FISA Court wiretaps (see).
**Judiciary and Intelligence committies.
And it appears that despite rumors and reports that Mueller and his "dream team" of 16 all-star cracker jack lawyers are zeroing in on Manafort for the kill that in reality they are no closer to hanging him than others have been over the last three years. Indeed, contrary to what we are hearing from the Trump derangement press the recent, pre-dawn "extraordinarily invasive," "intimidating" FBI raid on Manafort's Alexandria home (where a trove of documents and records were reportedly seized) proved, it seems, to have been a complete bust - another dead-end yielding nothing.
I say this for the following reasons: According to the Washington Post on July 25th, less than one full day before the raid, Robert Mueller learned that Manafort had been subpoenaed to appear on the 26th before the Senate Judiciary Committee in an open session. The reason for the subpoena was Manafort's apparent lack of cooperation in voluntarily producing certain records and documents that the committee requested for its investigation. What were these documents? Whatever seems to be pertinent to the Russiagate witch hunt, of course.
Manafort with Putin and Ukrainian President Yanukovych.
Indeed, since last March, according to the Business Insider (see), the committee has been examining Manafort's financial and political history with Russian oligarchs, especially as a paid advisor (which made him millions) to the "Party of Regions" in the Ukraine - this was the pro-Russian political party that elected Manafort's client Viktor Yanukowych president in 2010. Apparently, it was docs related to this part of the probe that Manafort at first was seemed reluctant to produce and underlie the subpoena.
Now on July 25th (that very same day) shortly after the Senate issued its subpoena two things happened: (1) Manafort agreed to produce the documents causing the Senate committee to immediately withdraw the subpoena; and (2) Mueller, it appears (and this is crucially important), took the Senate subpoena to a federal judge and convinced him to issue a warrant to search Manafort's Alexandria home. In other words, the Senate subpoena was the basis for the search warrant and triggered it.
Indeed, the Senate subpoena for Russiagate related documents and the court warrant for the raid being issued within hours of each other are inextricably linked; for it was a load of docs that the FBI reportedly took from Manaford's home. As the Washington Post reported:
"The search warrant indicates that investigators may have argued to a federal judge that they had reason to think Manafort could not be TRUSTED to turn over all records in response to a grand jury subpoena ."
In other words, because the Senate briefly couldn't trust Manafort to produce certain documents (the reason for the subpoena) neither could Mueller trust him; and apparently with the newly issued subpoena in hand Mueller convinced the federal judge that his distrust was warranted; that it was possible Manafort was in possession of incriminating evidence of financial wrongdoing that he might try to conceal, destroy or alter; and that an immediate invasive search of his home was necessary to prevent that from happening. Persuaded by Muller that immediate and urgent action was needed the judge issued the warrant; and within hours the FBI raided Manafort's home carting away boxes of records, docs, computers and what not.
Indeed, given the coincidence on July 25th of the search warrant issued just hours after the Senate subpoena my theory linking the docs requested by the Senate with what was reportedly seized in the raid looks quite valid. Also valid is my theory that the raid proved a complete failure and bust. For if not then why leak the raid to the press two weeks later? If Team Mueller had found a smoking gun leaking the raid makes no sense unless they had nothing better to leak and hurt Manafort (and Trump) with.
Indeed, if after two weeks of processing the seized records and docs Mueller's team found something damning for a grand jury indictment then that's what they would have leaked - that an indictment was imminent. Leaking info about the pre-dawn raid is a sign of frustration with the Manafort investigation; that it is going no better for Mueller then it went for Comey and the FBI after ten months; or for the CIA, NSA and DNI for three years; or for Senate committee investigators since March when they started their probe.
In other words, after 13 months and millions spent the Russiagate investigation is still thick black plumes of smoke desperately searching for a fire; after 13 months the bloodthirsty, destroy Trump witch hunt still has no one to hang, crucify or burn.
The NY Times reports that Special Council Robert Mueller's team advised Paul Manafort that they plan to indict him. For what? The Times doesn't say. Manafort is allegedly under investigation for possible violations of tax laws and failure to abide by disclosure requirements relating to his lobbying work for Kremlin-aligned governments in eastern Europe. In other words, these possible indictments have zero to do with Russiagate: of criminal collusion of Team Trump with Russia to tilt the election in President Trump's favor.
However, assuming that this is true and an indictment unrelated to Russiagate is coming down for Manafort he doesn't seem the least bit troubled by it. For if he were, if he feared a conviction and jail time, he would likely have done an Eric Snowden by now fleeing to Russia the guest of Vladimir Putin, living with Yanukovych safely beyond the reach of US law.
As I've been predicting all along at worst Russiagate will be Plamegate 2 with Mueller (who was FBI Chief during the Plamegate investigation) grabbing a Scooter Libby for perjury and obstruction but finding nothing on the President. Could Manafort be Mueller's Libby? If that should happen it will turn this probe into one big wasteful fiasco just like Plamegate.