Last week marked the beginning of the trial against Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates. Don’t know who Paul Manafort is?
Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager for the 2016 election and was recently indicted by Robert Mueller for his Russia investigation.
Manafort is charged on 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading Foreign Agent Registration Act statements, false statements and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.
So why is this a big deal? After all, there’s nothing new about the fact that another acquaintance of Trump is corrupt. So what exactly makes this trial so important?
It’s quite simple actually. This is the first indictment that Robert Mueller has made in his investigation and while Manafort isn’t charged with anything directly related to collusion, this is still the closest Mueller has gotten to a member of the Trump administration. In fact, as of yesterday, Gates pleaded guilty to owning 15 foreign bank accounts, all of which went unreported to the government and claims that Manafort committed these crimes alongside him. If Gates continues to cooperate as he did yesterday, there is a chance that for once we would actually get to put away one of the bad guys from the current administration.
As usual, President Trump took to Twitter to share his inner feelings about the Manafort trial and the Mueller probe and questioned: “Looking back on history, who was treated worse, Alfonse Capone, legendary mob boss, killer and “Public Enemy Number One,” or Paul Manafort, political operative & Reagan/Dole darling, now serving solitary confinement – although convicted of nothing? Where is the Russian Collusion?”. In a direct comparison to famous mobster Al Capone, Trump attempts to portray his campaign manager’s innocence despite the vast evidence to the contrary. It is also no secret that the president has a serious issue with the investigation conducted by Robert Mueller and is constantly referring to it as the “witch hunt.”
Regardless, we as a nation should take joy in the little victories. Whether we can prove collusion or not, we have the opportunity to put a real corrupt politician behind bars, whether our president likes it or not.
Photo: Brandon Mowinkel