Who Is Paul Manafort For Real – The Shy And Quiet American; How Does He Connect With President Donald Trump?

Paul Manafort made a career out of stealthily reinventing the world’s nastiest tyrants as noble defenders of freedom. Getting Donald Trump elected were to be a cinch.

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Donald Trump’s political strategist Paul Manafort, left, with former presidential candidate Ben Carson at a campaign reception on April 21, 2016 in Hollywood, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s palace, is impressive by the standards of Palm Beach—less so when judged against the abodes of the world’s autocrats. It doesn’t, for instance, quite compare with Mezhyhirya, the gilded estate of deposed Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych. Trump may have 33 bathrooms and three bomb shelters, but his mansion lacks a herd of ostrich, a galleon parked in a pond, and a set of golden golf clubs. Yet the two properties are linked, not just in ostentatious spirit, but by the presence of one man. Trump and Yanukovych have shared the same political brain, an operative named Paul Manafort.

Franklin FoerFRANKLIN FOER

Franklin Foer is a Slatecontributing editor and the author of World Without Mind.

Ukrainians use the term “political technologist” as a favored synonym for electoral consultant. Trump turned to Manafort for what seemed at first a technical task: Manafort knows how to bullwhip and wheedle delegates at a contested convention. He’s done it before, assisting Gerald Ford in stifling Ronald Reagan’s insurgency at the GOP’s summer classic of 1976. In the conventions that followed, the Republican Party often handed Manafort control of the program and instructed him to stage-manage the show. He produced the morning-in-America convention of 1984 and the Bob Dole nostalgia-thon of 1996.

Given Manafort’s experience and skill set, it never made sense that he would be limited to such a narrow albeit crucial task as delegate accumulation. Indeed, it didn’t take long before he attempted to seize control of the Trump operation—managing the budget, buying advertising, steering Trump toward a teleprompter and away from flaming his opponents, appearing on air as a primary surrogate.

Some saw the hiring of Manafort as desperate, as Trump reaching for a relic from the distant past in the belated hope of compensating for a haphazard campaign infrastructure. In fact, securing Manafort was a coup. He was among the most significant political operatives of the past 40 years, and one of the most effective. He has revolutionized lobbying several times over, though he self-consciously refrains from broadcasting his influence.

Unlike his old business partners, Roger Stone and Lee Atwater, you would never describe Manafort as flamboyant. He stays in luxury hotels, but orders room service and churns out memos. When he does venture from his suite for dinner with a group, he’ll sit at the end of the table and say next to nothing, giving the impression that he reserves his expensive opinions for private conversations with his clients. “Manafort is a person who doesn’t necessarily show himself. There’s nothing egotistical about him,” says the economist Anders Aslund, who advised the Ukrainian government. The late Washington Post columnist Mary McGrorydescribed him as having a “smooth, noncommittal manner, ” though she also noted his “aggrieved brown eyes.” Despite his decades of amassing influence in Washington and other global capitals, he’s never been the subject of a full magazine profile. He distributes quotes to the press at the time and place of his choosing, which prior to his arrival on the Trump campaign, was almost never. (Indeed, he did not respond to requests to comment for this story.)

His work necessarily entails secrecy. Although his client list has included chunks of the Fortune 500, he has also built a booming business working with dictators. As Roger Stone has boasted about their now-disbanded firm: “Black, Manafort, Stone, and Kelly, lined up most of the dictators of the world we could find. … Dictators are in the eye of the beholder.” Manafort had a special gift for changing how dictators are beheld by American eyes. He would recast them as noble heroes—venerated by Washington think tanks, deluged with money from Congress.

Playing tennis with Yanukovych at Mezhyhirya might have been the culmination of Manafort’s long career. He spent nearly seven years commuting to Kiev. Over that stretch, he remade Ukrainian politics and helped shift the country into Vladimir Putin’s sphere of influence. It was an impressive achievement, at least according to the ethical calculus that governs Manafort’s world. But then along came Donald Trump—another oligarch in desperate need of his services.

* * *

The genesis of Donald Trump’s relationship with Paul Manafort begins with Roy Cohn. That Roy Cohn: Joe McCarthy’s heavy-lidded henchman, lawyer to the Genovese family. During the ’70s, Trump and his father hired Cohn as their lawyer to defend the family against a housing discrimination suit. (Cohn accused the Feds of using “Gestapo-like tactics.”) But Cohn and Trump became genuine pals, lunching at the Four Seasons and clubbing together at Studio 54. It was Roy Cohn who introduced Stone and Manafort to Trump.

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Manafort Was Trump’s New Top Dog; How Did He Take Over The Trump Campaign? Photo: RHONA WISE

During those disco years, Stone and Manafort were tethered together. They were both kids from Connecticut, attending colleges in Washington, though they couldn’t have been more different. Stone loved attention and garnered it with theatrical flair. He was a bad boy, soi-disant. As a student at George Washington University, Stone moonlighted for the Nixon campaign and gravitated to Jeb Magruder, deputy director of the Committee to Re-Elect the President. Dirty tricks came naturally to Stone. He assumed a pseudonym and made contributions on behalf of the Young Socialist Alliance to one of Nixon’s potential challengers. He hired spies to infiltrate the McGovern campaign. Stone wasn’t shy about his handiwork. In fact, he wasn’t shy about anything. He loved to sit for interviews and vamp. Stone is a bodybuilding fanatic who posedshirtless in the New Yorker. The photo captured his implanted hair, but not the tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back.

Manafort had a very different mentor. He studied under the future secretary of state, James A. Baker III, who wielded his knife with the discipline of a Marine and the polish of a Princetonian. It was a good fit for Manafort, who shared his mentor’s pragmatic conservatism and his thirst for politics. (His father spent six years as the mayor of New Britain, Connecticut, a Republican who flourished in Democratic terrain.) Baker, an avid collector of young talent, had managed Gerald Ford’s re-election campaign. That’s where he spotted Manafort and anointed him aide de camp. When Baker needed his own manager for his 1978 campaign to become attorney general of Texas, he tapped Manafort. The experience of whispering in Baker’s ear left a lasting impression. “Paul modeled himself after Baker,” one of his friends told me.

Despite his Yankee stock, Manafort ran Reagan’s Southern operation, the racially tinged appeal that infamously began in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the hamlet where civil rights activists were murdered in 1964. The success of the 1980 campaign gave Stone and Manafort cachet. More important, they helped run Reagan’s transition to power. They stocked the administration, distributing jobs across the agencies and accumulating owed favors that would provide the basis for their new lobbying business. They opened their doors in 1981.

Manafort and Stone pioneered a new style of firm, what K Street would come to call a double-breasted operation.

One wing of the shop managed campaigns, electing a generation of Republicans, from Phil Gramm to Arlen Spector. The other wing lobbied the officials they helped to victory on behalf of its corporate clients. Over the course of their early years, they amassed a raft of blue-chip benefactors, including Salomon Brothers and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Another early client was Donald J. Trump. What Trump wanted was help fending off potential rivals to his Atlantic City casino business. He especially feared the rise of Indian gaming. As the 2016 campaign  graphically illustrated, Trump doesn’t treat rivals gently. Testifying before a congressional committee in 1993, he began with his rote protestations of friendship. “Nobody likes Indians as much as Donald Trump.” He then proceeded to worry that the tribes would prove unable to fend off gangsters. “There is no way Indians are going to protect themselves from the mob … It will be the biggest scandal ever, the biggest since Al Capone … An Indian chief is going to tell Joey Killer to please get off his reservation? It’s unbelievable to me.”

Trump poured money into a shell group called the New York Institute for Law and Society. The group existed solely to publish ads smearing his potential Indian competition. Under dark photos of needles and other junkie paraphernalia, the group asserted, “The St. Regis Mohawk Indian record of criminal activity is well documented.” (It wasn’t.) “Are these the new neighbors we want?”

We know that Trump and Stone were behind the New York Institute because Gov. George Pataki investigated its doings. He slapped Trump and Stone with a $250,000 fine and required them to publicly apologize for running the ads.

Manafort didn’t own the Trump account at the firm. But one of his former partners told me that he would dispense advice and pitch in, winning Trump’s trust. When Manafort took an apartment in Trump Towers in 2006, he would kibitz with his old client when they’d run into one another on the elevator. “Trump knew this guy was top drawer,” says one Republican operative.

* * *

Manafort and Stone built a glamour firm. The Black in its name belonged to Charles Black, who as a 25-year-old launched the Senate career of Jesse Helms. Later, they lured Lee Atwater, the evil genius who would devise the Willie Horton gambit for George H.W. Bush. The firm had swagger. In the early ’80s, the partners spoke openly to the Washington Post of their annual $450,000 salaries.

According to the consultant Ed Rollins, Black would later boast that the firm had schemed to gain cartel-like control of the 1988 Republican presidential primary. They managed all of the major campaigns. Atwater took Bush; Black ran Dole; Stone handled Jack Kemp. A congressional staffer joked to a reporter from Time, “Why have primaries for the nomination? Why not have the candidates go over to Black, Manafort and Stone and argue it out?”

Zimbabwe’s Chamisa challenges election result, halts inauguration

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa addresses a media conference following the announcement of election results in Harare, Zimbabwe, on August 3, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa addresses a media conference following the announcement of election results in Harare, Zimbabwe, on August 3, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)

Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, filed a court challenge on Friday against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s election victory, halting Mnangagwa’s planned Sunday inauguration.

The first election since Robert Mugabe was forced to resign after a coup in November had been expected to end Zimbabwe’s pariah status and launch an economic recovery but post-election unrest has reminded the country of its violent past.

Chamisa’s lawyer Thabani Mpofu said he had asked the Constitutional Court to nullify the July 30 vote and that his court application meant Mnangagwa’s swearing-in had been halted.

Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi told Reuters Sunday’s inauguration “will no longer happen” until the case is finalised.

“On the basis of the evidence we have placed before the court, we seek in the main relief to the effect that the court should declare the proper winner and the proper winner is my client,” Mpofu told reporters outside.

“In the alternative, we seek that there be another election which complies with the dictates of the law,” Mpofu said. “There is no inauguration that will take place until the matter is determined by the court.”

The constitution requires a losing presidential candidate to file any challenge within seven days of a winner being declared.

The Constitutional Court, which can declare a new winner or order a fresh election, must rule within 14 days of an election petition.

Mnangagwa’s ruling ZANU-PF party dismissed the legal action.

“I am confident they have no case. Elections are not won in court, they are won in the field. But if they want to meet us in court we have sufficient legal minds to meet them squarely in court,” ZANU-PF legal secretary Paul Mangwana said.

Mnangagwa secured a comfortable victory in last month’s vote, according to results from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, polling 2.46 million votes against 2.15 million for the 40-year-old Chamisa. The opposition said the result was rigged.

The election passed off relatively smoothly but its aftermath revealed the deep rifts in Zimbabwean society.

Two days after the vote, six people were killed in an army crackdown on protests against the victory by Mnangagwa’s ruling ZANU-PF party.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission said it was concerned that no one was taking responsibility for the deployment of soldiers that the opposition says were harassing its supporters and ordinary citizens in townships at night.

“This poses an even bigger danger to communities as it appears that the soldiers beating up civilians are not accountable to anyone,” the commission said.

Earlier on Friday, opposition leader and former finance minister Tendai Biti appeared in court to challenge his arrest on Thursday on charges of public violence and illegally announcing election results. The case was postponed to next Wednesday.

(Source: Reuters)

North Korea Rejects All US Denuclearisation Proposals – Reports

by CRIMSON TAZVINZWA –LONDON – North Korea has turned down all proposals by the United States to start the process of complete denuclearise, US media reported.

Pyongyang declined giving up part of its nuclear arsenal in the near future as a gesture of goodwill, calling US proposals “gangster-like,” diplomatic sources told CNN on Friday.

The Korean government reportedly pointed to steps it had already taken in a show of good faith, including its decision to discontinue missile tests and repatriate remains of fallen US soldiers.

Koreans see the summit not just as another sensational episode in the story of Donald Trump but as a step away from a sixty-eight-year-old unfinished war.Photograph by Evan Vucci / AP
North Korea’s Kim Jong-un promised to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons at a summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June. There is no schedule provided.
READ RELATED: North Korea Hasn’t Taken Necessary Steps on Denuclearisation – White House Adviser Bolton

English Hill Proudly Becomes Mountain

The little English hill, Miller Moss  also known as Little Lingy Hill is celebrated today, after a pair of hill-measuring enthusiasts found it to be one metre higher than the Ordnance Survey calculated – sneaking it over the classification boundary that divides mere hills from mountains.

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©www.thetimes.co.uk

That threshold is 609.6 metres (2000ft). Hence mountaineers John Barnard and Graham Jackson have spent a lot of time hunting for hills that lie around the 609m mark and giving them a re-measure, bagging quite a few reclassifications as they go.

The problem with the Ordnance Survey’s data is that many of its height measurements are calculated from a 3D map generated from flying a plane over the land, with Barnard and Jackson instead manually going up hills and doing a reading with a high-end bit of GPS kit.

Hence Miller Moss having its official height changed from 609m to 610.1m and getting itself declared a mountain. The ranking of this newly founded mountain is not yet established but experts predict Miller Moss could be the shortest mountain in the United Kingdom.

Maybe don’t add a trip to the top to your 2019 stay-cation plans, though, as Barnard describes the summit as a “nondescript bump.” [Telegraph]

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Miller Moss ©OS

 

US Abandons Military Training Exercises With Pakistan

State Department says effective suspension of Pakistan from IMET programme will close off places set aside for 66 Pakistani officers this year

Pakistani officials warn move can push their military to further look to China or Russia for leadership training

What Will Happen To The World The DAY Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller Publishes His Report On Trump, Russia Collusion Investigation?

Rudolph William Louis Giuliani, attorney to President Donald Trump is working on his “counter-report,” which he said would be released after his team reviewed whatever Mueller filed with the Justice Department.

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Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow will literally host Sean Hannity’s radio show on Fox and Friends

President Donald Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
SAUL LOEB, AFP/Getty Images

Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s lawyer, said his team was preparing a “counter-report” designed to rebut any accusations that special counsel Robert Mueller makes in his expected report about the Russia investigation.

Giuliani told USA TODAY that he believed Mueller’s team is “writing the report as we speak.”

Giuliani’s own team worked on its “counter-report,” which he said would be released after his team reviewed whatever Mueller filed with the Justice Department. It’s unclear whether the special counsel will file anything with the Department Of Justice.

MORE: What Has The Head Of New York Prostitution Ring To Do With Mueller Investigation Into Russia Collusion?

Mueller’s office declined to comment on Giuliani’s comments.

Giuliani said he had no firsthand knowledge of Mueller’s plans, but  he expected the special counsel to file something by Sept. 1, two months before the midterm elections.

“I don’t think Mueller wants to be seen as interfering with the election,” he said.

Giuliani cited the counter-report as he and the president questioned the legal basis for two aspects of Mueller’s investigation: possible collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice.

READ: Donald Trump has thrown the Turkish lira under the bus

MORE: Turkey shaken by financial fears, Trump rattles it further

Though Trump and Giuliani have denied any sort of cooperation with Russian hackers, the president’s attorney said collusion might not be a crime.

“I have been sitting here looking in the federal code, trying to find collusion as a crime,” Giuliani said on “Fox & Friends” on Monday. “Collusion is not a crime.”

Giuliani said that, as a legal matter, there is no obstruction of justice claim. Mueller’s team is looking into whether Trump sought to undermine the Russia investigation by firing FBI Director James Comey and attacking Justice Department officials such as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller.

Larry David: What Really Happened at Trump Tower

A transcript of “that” meeting with the Russians surfaces — and a controversy is settled.

By Larry David

Mr. David is the creator of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Credit: George Wylesol

Everybody wants to know what was said in that Trump Tower meeting with the Russians in June 2016. Well, other than the people in the room, I, Steven Yablonsky, alone know exactly what was said because I worked as a janitor in the building and was hiding in the closet recording all of it on my phone. As it happens, I was fired yesterday for not putting up the “wet floor” sign in the lobby, and a few people took a tumble, including Tiffany, so now I can finally reveal all.

Here is the transcription:

Through a crack in the closet door, four Russians enter. They are Natalia Veselnitskaya, Rinat Akhmetshin, Irakly Kaveladze and Anatoli Samochornov. Already present are Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner and Rob Goldstone. They all say hello and introductions are made.

Rinat: Where shall we sit?

Don Jr.: Anywhere you’d like.

Rinat: You want big chair?

Don Jr.: You can have the big chair.

Rinat: Ah, I feel a little funny.

Natalia: Take big chair. Don Jr. say O.K.

Rinat: (sits) I like this. It sinks in. Might fall asleep.

Irakly: (pointing) Look at nice spread.

Jared: Help yourself to anything on the table.

Irakly: Is that tuna fish or chicken salad? Very hard to tell difference.

Rob: And they taste the same. That I don’t get.

(They all mutter in agreement. Why is that? One’s chicken, one’s fish.)

Manafort: O.K., shall we begin?

Natalia: We have very good dirt, as you say, on Clinton. You win election with this.

Manafort: Hold it, hold it. Wait a second. First off, that would be illegal. That would be conspiring with an enemy to commit election fraud.

Rinat: I thought that was what meeting about.

Natalia: Me too.

Don Jr.: What? Who told you that?

Rinat: What did you think it was about?

Don Jr.: I thought it was about adoption!

Rinat: Adoption?!

Manafort: Yes, adoption. We want you to rescind the ban. It’s taking a tremendous toll.

The Russians: (in unison) Ohh … well, this is big misunderstanding …

Jared: I’ll say.

Don Jr.: Can I have a word with my colleagues?

(The four Americans huddle up right in front of the closet door.)

Don Jr.: I think we should call the F.B.I.

Goldstone: Right now?

Don Jr.: Right now!

Jared: No, that’s crazy.

Don Jr.: We’re breaking the law, Jared!

Jared: No, we’re not. … What’s that word that starts with a “c”?

Goldstone: Constitution?

Manafort: Coffers?

Don Jr.: Conspiracy?

Jared: No … collusion! That’s legal! Is that a beauty? We’re not calling the F.B.I.!

Don Jr.: O.K., but my dad still might get in a lot of trouble for this.

Goldstone: I’m getting an Arnold Palmer.

Don Jr.: I don’t think there’s any lemonade.

Goldstone: Seriously?

(They return to their seats.)

Manafort: Sorry about the misunderstanding, but you see, there are thousands of families in America who are suffering because they’re unable to have children of their own. One of my dearest friends has no children. It’s been heartbreaking to watch them trying to adopt and come up empty.

Don Jr.: Do you have kids, Anatoli?

Anatoli: Yes, two beautiful daughters. The government take them for gymnastics.

Don Jr.: So you know how empty life is without them. I know relations between our great countries have been frayed. But that shouldn’t be what this is about. This should be about hardworking families who want to experience the joys of parenthood. Can’t you put yourself in their shoes? Can’t you … (begins to break down)

Manafort: Does anyone have a tissue?

Anatoli: Natalia, you have tissue in purse?

Natalia: Here, yes, of course. Don’t cry, Don Jr. Don’t cry.

Don Jr.: (bawling) Thank you. … I wanted to adopt a child from Cambodia, but Vanessa said no. It broke us up. … I’m sorry.

Natalia: I see how much this means to you. I will call President Putin to discuss. I am on your side.

Rinat: Me too.

Don Jr.: Thank you. This means the world to me. And you know who will be really happy about this? Dad. In fact, this whole meeting was his idea.

Natalia: Nice.

Rinat: And you’re sure you don’t want our information on Clinton? Election in bag.

Manafort: Oh, God, no. Please don’t bring that up again. You see, Rinat, this is America. We’re a democracy. Our elections are sacred. And when it comes right down to it, I’d rather lose than win by cheating.

Natalia: Understood. Our apologies. We will be in touch.

(They say their goodbyes and head out. As the door closes …)

Don Jr: I still think we should call the F.B.I.

Larry David is the creator of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

 

 

 

 

Adapted from the New York Times/10/08/2018

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