Apologies for the continued delays in writing: circumstances beyond my control. Thank you for your continued patience.
Currently, Paul Manafort — President Trump’s campaign manager from June through August of 2016 — is in solitary confinement in a Virginia prison.
He has been in solitary for nearly eight months, because, last year, whilst on house arrest, he tried to contact someone whom he hoped would be a witness for his defence. He did not know at the time this person — along with a number of others — was on a no-contact list.
It appears that Robert Mueller’s team and the presiding judge, Amy Berman Jackson — an Obama appointee — are attempting to break him down, minute by minute, day by day, month by month.
In January 2019, best selling author Sidney Powell, who is also a former federal prosecutor, wrote a chilling article on solitary confinement for The Daily Caller and the effects it must be having on Manafort’s physical and mental health.
Recall that Manafort has never committed violent crime or any type of felony. He had shady dealings with Ukraine, but the FBI/DoJ dismissed those several years ago and closed his file. With regard to the Trump campaign, he has not been found guilty of any collusion with Russia. For the past several months, not only has his old Ukraine file been re-opened but Mueller is still looking for evidence of actual wrongdoing with regard to the Trump campaign.
For a number of ‘process crimes’ — not remembering specific dates and circumstances — he continues to be deprived of liberty and movement 23 hours a day. In reality, he belongs in a white collar prison.
Sidney Powell’s article concludes:
Paul Manafort, seventy years old, has endured this torture for eight months. He’s now in a wheelchair, while Judge Amy Berman Jackson mocks his rapidly deteriorating health. Where is the outcry from the ACLU?
Where is the outcry from the media? How is this tolerated in what is supposed to be a civilized society?
Paul Manafort, whatever crime he may have committed, is no danger to anyone. He is literally being driven insane and killed by the brutal treatment inflicted on him by Mueller’s abusive tactics with the full support of federal judge Amy Berman Jackson.
Perhaps all judges and prosecutors, as part of their training before taking their jobs, should be required to spend 48 hours in solitary confinement. Until that happens, Paul Manafort’s conditions of confinement are inhuman, and he should be put in safe and respectable prison housing. He is no danger to anyone.
In October 2018 — after only two months in solitary — Manafort’s health and appearance had already taken a hit. He wasn’t even able to wear a pair of shoes when he appeared in court that month for a sentencing update. It is said he now has gout. On October 20, Newser reported on another trial, this one with Judge TS Ellis presiding (emphases mine):
he showed up, in a wheelchair, wearing a green prison jumpsuit—not his usual tailored suit—and missing his right shoe. “There are significant issues with Mr. Manafort’s health concerning confinement,” his lawyer, Kevin Downing, told the judge, asking that the sentencing be sped up so Manafort, if kept in prison, could be moved to a facility better able to manage his maladies. A person said to be “familiar with Manafort’s condition” tells CNN his issue is serious and is inflammation-based, tied to what he’s been eating.
Judge TS Ellis had earlier struck down the Manafort legal team’s request that their client be permitted to wear a regular suit to Friday’s hearing, with Ellis noting “defendants who are in custody post-conviction are, as a matter of course, not entitled to appear for sentencing or any other hearing in street clothing,” per NBC. Ellis gave Manafort a sentencing date of Feb. 8, where he’ll hear his fate on eight counts of tax evasion and bank fraud. The judge also dismissed 10 additional charges on which the jury deadlocked during the trial, though CNN notes if Manafort doesn’t keep cooperating with Robert Mueller’s investigation, those charges could be reinstated.
Sure enough. On November 26, Robert Mueller said Manafort violated his plea deal by ‘lying’ to investigators.
Predictably enough, on February 13, 2019, Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that there was enough evidence to show that Manafort ‘lied’ about three topics. Epoch Times reported that the ‘lies’ involved included:
his communications with his employee Konstantin Kilimnik. Jackson ruled that Manafort did not lie about his contacts with members of the Trump administration and Kilimnik’s role in an obstruction of justice charge.
The special counsel is investigating allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mueller has not charged Manafort nor any other person with collusion.
This means heavier sentencing — more appropriate for a Whitey Bulger type on the lam for decades rather than a senior citizen who has spent most of his adult life involved in political consulting living an upper-middle class lifestyle:
While the ruling is split, it will still damage Manafort’s chances of a lighter sentence, since Mueller’s prosecutors are no longer obliged to call for a lighter sentence. Manafort, 69, could face up to a decade in prison, according to sentencing experts.
Should the maximum sentence be applied, by the time of his release, Manafort would be nearly 80 years old, unless someone intervenes or he wins an appeal for a lesser sentence.
However, a investigative report from March 2018 details the circumstances behind which Manafort became Trump’s campaign manager and got him the Republican nomination: Franklin Foer’s ‘Paul Manafort, American Hustler’ for The Atlantic. That deserves its own post.
For now, Diana West wrote a summary of Foer’s article for Epoch Times: ‘Paul Manafort: A Time Bomb?’, dated February 18, 2019, further summarised below.
Manafort had worked for Viktor Yanukovych between 2004 and 2010. After that, he continued to work for other Ukranians as a political consultant until 2014.
After his work in Ukraine came to an end, Manafort had difficulty finding other clients.
Consequently, he had money problems, because he had been used to living the high life for many years. Now his world of luxury was gradually becoming straitened. He had offshore accounts, but whether he could not or did not want to access them is unclear.
His home life became complicated, too. He is married and his daughters were already adults at the time. Mrs Manafort and his daughters discovered that Paul had been having a long-term affair, which was also sapping his finances. Although he and his wife had marital counselling afterwards, he continued to see his paramour during that time. The discovery came to light six months later, straining his marriage even further.
He had what his daughter Andrea calls ‘an emotional breakdown’ and entered a clinic in Arizona sometime around May 2015. Manafort was allowed a daily ten-minute phone conversation with his wife. Apparently, he was often tearful and psychologically far from his best.
It is unclear how long he stayed at the clinic, but in February 2016, Manafort contacted a mutual friend of his and Trump’s: real estate mogul Tom Barrack. This seems to have been just after the Iowa caucus that month, which Ted Cruz won in a most dishonest way. His people had told Republican voters that Dr Ben Carson had dropped out of the race, when, clearly, he had not. However, Cruz, who had good support at that point, simply sapped Carson’s votes and beat candidate Trump.
Manafort saw the Iowa result and thought he could definitely help his old friend, Donald.
Barrack had known Trump for four decades, but he had known Manafort for even longer. Apparently, Barrack and Manafort met in the Middle East when both were doing consulting work for Saudi princes.
Although he was hurting financially, Manafort offered to work without collecting a salary — and did.
As those of you who followed my posts during the 2016 recall, Manafort did sterling work. Donald Trump never could have got his delegates without Paul Manafort’s untiring, dogged efforts.
Therefore, I disagree with the estimable Ms West who concludes that Manafort was a plant, someone who was there to sabotage the Trump campaign.
He was a walking time bomb for any of Trump’s political enemies to maneuver into the Trump camp and then wait for Manafort’s toxic life story to explode all over Trump.
I should think, however, that, had Manafort really been a plant, all of his notional scandals would have come out at the time, and holier-than-thou ‘constitutionalist’ Ted Cruz would have become the GOP nominee. That would have been easy to accomplish.
In the event, however, we did not know much about Manafort other than that he was a GOP presidential campaign veteran, having worked for Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, GHW Bush and, less successfully, for Senator Bob Dole.
Parts of Franklin Foer’s article for The Atlantic will be worth summarising here, especially those about Manafort’s early career and personal life.