Perhaps because a weary public was underwhelmed by his indictment last week of thirteen ham sandwiches with Russian dressing, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has returned to an old baloney sandwich with American cheese named Paul Manafort, and slathered on some extra mayonnaise to lubricate his journey to federal prison.
The additional charges specify tax evasion and money-laundering shenanigans around Manafort’s activities in Ukraine between 2006 and 2015, a period that included the USA’s active participation in the overthrow of Ukraine’s elected president, Victor Yanukovych, who had declared a desire to join the Russian Customs Union instead of being shanghaied into an expanded NATO.
Scrupulous observers may note that all this took place well in advance of the 2016 US presidential election, when Manafort was candidate Donald Trump’s campaign manager for several months before being thrown overboard for reasons still publicly unknown — but probably the awareness that Manafort’s personal financial affairs were a smoldering wreck. Meanwhile, Manafort’s business colleague, Rick Gates, has also been charged by Mueller, and this week an associate of Gates, one Alex Van Der Swaan, son-in-law of a Russian billionaire, was persuaded to plead guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Gates.
All of this suggests that there were fabulous opportunities for American profiteering in the sad-sack, quasi failed state of Ukraine, and that the feckless Manafort circle will be doing Chinese fire drills in the federal courts until the cows come home, but it doesn’t say a whole lot about Russian interference in the 2016 US election. One might surmise that there is enough pressure on Manafort and company to get them to say anything now to save their asses. On the other hand, it could lead in open court to the airing of all sorts of dirty laundry about surreptitious US meddling in Ukraine, and about the corps of camp-following money-grubbing American grifters who raced in after 2014 to steal anything that wasn’t nailed down there by the homegrown kleptocrats.
But it it also raises the question whether Mr. Mueller was invited on the scene to prosecute any old thing that fell in his path. Or why he is ignoring the much more obvious smoking mess around his old FBI colleagues who seemed to have committed manifold acts of criminal misconduct in their pursuit of FISA warrants to gather intel on candidate Trump.
In the end - if this extravagant melodrama ever does end - we are stuck with ourselves and our many serious problems here in the USA, which include especially an unraveling financial system that may leave the nation as economically broken and desolate as Russia was in 1991– but ironically with a far less resilient population unused to real travail, as the Russians were after 70 years of soviet Deep State-ism.
Our own Deep State has rapidly become an entity as sinister as the old Soviet Nomenklatura. It is interesting and dismaying to see so many public intellectuals swallow its self-serving claims when it was not so many years ago that a healthy and natural skepticism about government lying was the order of the day, especially when it came to the dark towers of US Intel.