The Russia Desk
S2 E3

The Precipitous Fall of Paul Manafort Explained

Paul Manafort was one of the president’s top campaign officials and a long-time confidant. So what inspired the former lobbyist to flip on the president and plead guilty to conspiracy?

After months of fighting, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Manafort pled guilty to one count of conspiracy against the U.S. and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice for his efforts to tamper with witnesses, as part of a grueling FBI investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The Mueller investigation essentially found him indirectly guilty of collusion in the 2016 presidential election with Russia in support of Trump and against Hillary Clinton.

Manafort has completely flipped on President Trump since he got started on the Trump campaign, and now he's agreed to cooperate with the FBI and Robert Mueller's investigation into the Russians and Vladimir Putin's influence on the 2016 presidential election.

In the five months Manafort worked for the Trump campaign, several possible criminal events occurred, including the Trump Tower meeting in which he and Don Jr. met with Russians. But Manafort's ties with the Kremlin go back even further.

He and right wing Infowars host Roger Stone opened a lobbying firm in the early '80s that had a lot of ties to Washington. Trump was introduced to Manafort and Stone through his close friend and mentor Roy Cohn. Later on, Manafort went on to work in the Ukraine for pro-Russian politician Viktor Yanukovych, who later became President Yanukovych.

Fast forward to October 2017, when Special Counsel Mueller announced charges against Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos, and provided evidence that the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government to obtain damaging info on Hillary Clinton.