I Can't Believe I Used To Think Paul Manafort Was The Boring One, HOLY JESUS SHIT!
Way back in the summer of 2016, or "before the dawn of time," shit was getting hinky with Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's campaign manager, and "Ukraine." There was lots of shade and mundane crookedness going on, but how interesting can something be when it is about "Ukraine," right? We knew he was corrupt, there were "ledgers," and wake us up when it's time to add dick jokes to the boring details in the eventual indictment.
One thing I like about me is I will tell you when I am wrong. And in this case, mama was a fucking moron.
So here's what you're going to do: You're going to open this tab for a time in the future when you have two hours to dick around. Then you're going to try to read the tab, but it will have eaten your computer because you left it open too long, so you're going to copy the url again and paste it into a new tab, and close the old tab, and you're going to read it then. Because you WILL read this story about Paul Manafort by Franklin Foer -- he of the "weird server" story in Slate that NUH UH WAS NOT DEBUNKED, haughty scolds of the New York Times! -- unless you hate drama and intrigue and mistresses and morally void sociopaths and the history of lobbying and why does every single person Trump's ever met have a corrupt jailbird daddy and what happened to Oleg Deripaska's 18 million dollars and a suitcase with Ferdinand Marcos's ten million dollar illegal donation to the Ronald Reagan campaign mysteriously disappearing in Paul Manafort's fat, thieving hands.
It just. keeps. going.
It is crazy cinematic, a bad boy tale like Wolf of Wall Street, but if the corrupt Wall Street guy then had 50 more chapters of his life where he did increasingly sociopathic things up to and including helping dictators murder SO MANY of their citizens and then went to a clinic to cry about killing himself while his daughters Cordelia and Reagan bitched that he wasn't giving them millions of blood moneys anymore, and then the very next year managed Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Which, fucking INSANELY, won, and now we are all going to die.
But we're not going to die without reading -- or even listening to! -- this crazy telenovela first!
Chapter One: Cry, Paul Manafort, Cry!
Paul Manafort's daughters complain he is getting cheap, and he is crying about killing himself, and Oleg Deripaska is trying to find him.
Andrea noted her father’s “tight cash flow state,” texting Jessica, “He is suddenly extremely cheap.” His change in spending habits was dampening her wedding plans. For her “wedding weekend kick off” party, he suggested scaling back the menu to hot dogs and eliminated a line item for ice.
I HATE YOU DADDY. I DON'T EVEN CARE IF YOU GET MURDERED BY THE RUSSIAN MOB.
Chapter Two: Paul Manafort And Roger Stone Ratfuck The Young Republicans
Whatever, this section's fine, and interesting history, and includes the line "it was one of the great fuck jobs," but not talking about prostitutes.
Chapter Three: Paul Manafort And Roger Stone Invent Lobbying And Hookers
The firm exuded the decadent spirit of the 1980s. Each year, it hosted a golf outing called Boodles, after the gin brand. “It would have to move almost every year, because we weren’t invited back,” John Donaldson, an old friend of Manafort’s who worked at the firm, says. “A couple of women in the firm complained that they weren’t ever invited. I told them they didn’t want to be.” As the head of the firm’s “social committee,” Manafort would supply a theme for the annual gatherings. His masterwork was a three-year progression: “Excess,” followed by “Exceed Excess,” capped by “Excess Is Best.”
How many hookers do you think died?
Having Invented Lobbying, Bored Manafort Invents Foreign Dictators
It is important to remain challenged in your work, so Paul Manafort did this:
The firm’s most successful right-wing makeover was of the Angolan guerrilla leader Jonas Savimbi, a Maoist turned anti-communist insurgent, whose army committed atrocities against children and conscripted women into sexual slavery. During the general’s 1986 trip to New York and Washington, Manafort and his associates created what one magazine called “Savimbi Chic.” Dressed in a Nehru suit, Savimbi was driven around in a stretch limousine and housed in the Waldorf-Astoria and the Grand Hotel, projecting an image of refinement. The firm had assiduously prepared him for the mission, sending him monthly reports on the political climate in Washington. According to The Washington Post, “He was meticulously coached on everything from how to answer his critics to how to compliment his patrons.” Savimbi emerged from his tour as a much-championed “freedom fighter.” When the neoconservative icon Jeane Kirkpatrick introduced Savimbi at the American Enterprise Institute, she declared that he was a “linguist, philosopher, poet, politician, warrior … one of the few authentic heroes of our time.”
Oh, that's gross. Is there more?
As the country stood on the brink of peace talks in the late ’80s, after nearly 15 years of bloody civil war, the firm helped secure fresh batches of arms for its client, emboldening Savimbi to push forward with his military campaign. Former Senator Bill Bradley wrote in his memoir, “When Gorbachev pulled the plug on Soviet aid to the Angolan government, we had absolutely no reason to persist in aiding Savimbi. But by then he had hired an effective Washington lobbying firm.” The war continued for more than a decade, killing hundreds of thousands of Angolans.
Oh. There was more.
Chapter Five: I LEARNED IT FROM YOU DAD!
Paul Manafort's dad, Paul Senior, was a big old crooky crook, and Junior loved him VERY MUCH. Also, his Dad got kickbacks for "a jai alai arena" because his dad was apparently the boy mayor of Ice Town.
Chapter Six: 1980s Arms Dealing For Fun And Profit
That's the section where this fucking thing is:
Stories about Manafort’s slipperiness have acquired mythic status. In the summer of 2016, Politico’s Kenneth Vogel, now with The New York Times, wrote a rigorous exegesis of a long-standing rumor: Manafort was said to have walked away with $10 million in cash from Ferdinand Marcos, money he promised he would deliver to Ronald Reagan’s reelection campaign (which itself would have been illegal). Vogel relied in part on the 1996 memoir of Ed Rollins, a Republican consultant and Reagan’s reelection-campaign director. In the book, Rollins recounted a dinner-party conversation with a member of the Filipino congress who claimed to have personally given a suitcase of cash to a “well-known Washington power lobbyist” involved in the Marcos campaign. Rollins would neither confirm nor deny that the lobbyist was Manafort, though his description doesn’t leave much uncertainty, and he conceded in an email that “it’s a pretty good guess.” Rollins admits in his book to being “stunned” by what he heard—“not in a state of total disbelief, though, because I knew the lobbyist well and I had no doubt the money was now in some offshore bank.” This irked Rollins greatly: “I ran the [Reagan] campaign for $75,000 a year, and this guy got $10 million in cash.”
(Then you click through to the Vogel piece, because of course you do, and learn that Imelda Marcos now serves in the Philippines Congress? And your head explodes and you die of sadness at the realization that we actually will serve under President Ivanka's 2040 reign, GOD FUCKING DAMMIT.)
Then you keep reading and you get this deliciousness and you forget about President Vanky:
After the election of George H. W. Bush, Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly agreed to help organize the inauguration festivities. The firm commissioned a company from Rhode Island to sell memorabilia on the parade route—T-shirts, buttons, and the like. After crews had taken down the reviewing stand and swept up the debris, the alumnus recalled, a vendor showed up in the office with a bag full of cash. To the disbelief of his colleague, Manafort had arranged to take his own cut. “It was a Paul tax,” the former employee told me. “I guess he needed a new deck. But this was classic: Somebody else does the work, and he walks away with the bag of cash.”
And you realize the President Vanky thing is okay, because we deserve it.
Chapter Seven: Ukraine Stuff
This chapter exists.
Chapter Eight: Oh, Here Is The Part Where He Steals $18 Million From A Russian 'Oligarch'
I used to think nobody is stupid enough to steal $18 million from a Russian "oligarch," and so surely Manafort and Oleg Deripaska were just moneylaundering through this one technique where you sue someone for stealing all your money but you are JUST KIDDING. (This has happened, weirdly, with the president's personal attorney, Michael Cohen! Isn't that weird?)
Well I was
For Pericles’s first deal, Manafort used Deripaska’s money to buy a telecommunications firm in Odessa called Chorne More (“Black Seas,” in English) at a cost of $18.9 million. He also charged a staggering $7.35 million in management fees for overseeing the venture.
But then 2008 hit, and Deripaska, after getting a loan from Russia that came with having to take a televised tongue lashing from Putin himself, asked Manafort for his investment back.
Manafort had little choice but to agree. But that promise never translated to action. An audit of Chorne More that Rick Gates said was under way likewise never materialized. Then, in 2011, Manafort stopped responding to Deripaska’s investment team altogether.
Deripaska wouldn’t let go of the notion that Manafort owed him money. In 2015, his lawyers filed a motion in a Virginia court. They wanted the authority to track down more information on the deal, even though the initial papers for it had been filed in the Cayman Islands. The lawyers had already managed to get their hands on some of the documentation surrounding the deal, and they had extracted a belated explanation of what had happened from Gates. According to a spokeswoman for Deripaska, Gates said that Chorne More had defaulted on a $1 million loan that it had taken out to pay for capital expenditures, allegedly forfeiting the partnership’s entire investment in the process. This explanation struck Deripaska’s lawyers as wildly implausible. Deripaska began to publicly doubt whether Manafort had even bought the telecommunications company in the first place. “At present it seems that the Partnership never acquired any of the Chorne More entities,” his lawyers argued.
That seems ... unwise.
Chapter Nine: Can You Imagine If Donald Trump's Bloated Old Goat Carcass Was Your 'Prize'?
Manafort needed money, fast. But he knew you don't ask Donald Trump for money. What ever to do?
Back in the ’80s, his firm had represented Trump when the mogul wanted to reroute planes flying over Mar-a-Lago, his resort in Palm Beach. Since 2006, Manafort had kept a pied-à-terre in Trump Tower, where he and Trump had occasionally seen each other and made small talk. This exposure yielded perhaps another crucial insight: Trump’s parsimony. When Manafort offered Trump his services, he resisted his tendency to slap a big price tag on them; he would provide his counsel, he said, free of charge. To his family, Manafort described this decision as a matter of strategy: If Trump viewed him as wealthy, then he would treat him as a near-equal, not as a campaign parasite.
But Manafort must have also believed that money would eventually come, just as it always had, from the influence he would wield in the campaign, and exponentially more so if Trump won. So might other favors and dispensations. These notions were very likely what led him to reach out to Oleg Deripaska almost immediately upon securing a post within the campaign, after having evaded him for years. Through one of his old deputies, a Ukrainian named Konstantin Kilimnik, he sent along press clippings that highlighted his new job. “How do we use to get whole,” Manafort emailed Kilimnik. “Has OVD operation seen?” Manafort’s spokesman has acknowledged that the initials refer to Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska. In the course of the exchanges, Kilimnik expressed optimism that “we will get back to the original relationship” with the oligarch.
DIDN'T HAPPEN. But he went to work for Donald Trump -- for free! -- and everything turned out for the very best.
At least until you remember we have to look forward to President Ivanka.
THIS IS YOUR OPEN THREAD until later, when we will not watch the State of the Union together. See you then!
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