The jet-setting dapper dandy from small potatoes Connecticut who used his burning ambition to be someone, certainly is a someone of the moment. Today his case goes to a jury of 12 people from around Alexandria, Va. The city is currently a Democratic bastion, but that can change in the region’s volatile politics that are more and more blue than red most of the time. It is no accident the government wanted the case tried there.
The quivering sliver of the American consciousness aware that nouveau riche, pretentious, pace setter Paul John Manafort is teetering on the edge of oblivion, didn’t complain too much after his defense team rested its case without a murmur. Nobody likes a guy who flaunts his wealth so he can be one of the big dogs.
Yesterday afternoon, the defendant with credentials made from gold-plated lead was taken out of his lawyer’s hands and placed in the delicate arms of blind Lady Justice. If the jury who judges him believes the prosecution and drops a hammer on Manafort for being a 71-year old pretentious twit who thinks secret offshore accounts are cool status symbols, he won’t be getting out of prison until he is so sick it isn’t worth the government’s time to keep him alive. The government piled on 18 counts of money laundering, tax evasion, and being obnoxious.
He has one forlorn hope: There only has to be one unbelieving fly in that ointment to screw things up for the prosecution’s airtight case.
Maybe that fly will be a Trump-loving, rabble rousing cooter, or an unrepentant Virginia rebel that will do anything to stick a shiv in the overreaching, money grubbing Yankee hogs that are populating Congress. If there are two of them, the jury has both hanged itself and slipped a thin, flexible knife between the ribs of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s end game.
But Mueller, a thorough man, has already laid on a second trial for Manafort for allegedly selling U.S. goodwill to a sleazy Ukrainian strongman who paid him a lot more than eight pieces of silver to sell out his country.
Essentially, according to one esteemed Missouri prosecutor, by quickly resting its case, the defendant’s reputedly brilliant defense team was saying that it had convinced the jury that Manafort’s ex-partner in crime, Rick Gates, was himself such a lowlife that he jacketed his buddy Paul with crimes that Gates had committed and only Manafort gained from.
That is hate, folks. Somebody out there may be thinking what kind of bozo does that, but who cares! The prosecution might shrug while inside they’re wetting their knickers. It only takes one bozo and Manafort has a hung jury.
Gates admittedly thought he was being slick by slipping his hands into his bosses’ trousers — figuratively speaking — with greasy fingers that took things belonging to Manafort. Being ill-gotten gains already, the government reasoned, Gates was merely compounding a crime he was also committing with his boss. A few dozen millions a year for few years can corrode any thief’s loyalty. And it truly was a tiny nest of thieves!
Such is a brief, bold, but fair assessment of the Manafort situation. The reality may be significantly different.
The government produced 27 witnesses from a list of 35 and threw around enough paper to recycle into a nifty cottage, all showing that Paul John Manafort was an amoral sleight-of-hand artist, a common character in today’s world, selling whatever bullshit his customer wanted shoveled. Manafort always understood who played for pay. He was the guy who knew how to pull power levers, and he’d still be doing it if he hadn’t been sucked into the vortex that is Donald Trump.
Forgotten in today’s news is Manafort’s past links to other presidents and power politicians. An old man now, Manafort in 1976 was a 27-year-old gofer at the Republican National Convention, sucking up to delegates to ensure that Gerald Ford remained his party’s nominee. It was a win, but also a loss. Ford beat out Ronald Reagan, but stumbled in office so much that he earned suggestions that he’d hit his head too many times playing football at Michigan.
The Ford fiasco fell to the Democrats’ magnolia-scented Jimmy Carter, who later lost to Reagan for the high crime of trying to be reasonable with the looney Iranians.
Nonetheless, in the rarefied atmosphere of backside Washington politics, Manafort is a known quantity. His association with presidential aspirants earned him the currency he used to claw his way into the murky world where big money, lies and politics collide. The notion that he is merely a con artist nailed by the Feds for not paying his taxes is naive bullshit. What is going on behind the scenes, where the power brokers huddle, is the real trump card.