Alber v Bryan CourthouseBy Theodore Mattheiss

Opinion Editor 

Paul Manafort, who was Donald Trump’s presidential campaign chairman for more than a year, was found guilty on several charges pertaining to white collar financial crime on Aug. 21. This trial is the first in Robert Mueller’s investigation of the charge that Russia meddled in the United States’ 2016 presidential election, although this particular trial was only tangentially related.

There were seven counts of fraud. Five were tax fraud, two were bank fraud. The last count was failure to disclose a foreign bank account. Combined, Mr. Manafort hid more than $60 million of his income from the federal government. He spends his money on things like $15,000 ostrich-skin jackets and a large flower bed in the shape of an “M” in front of his mansion in New York, by the way. That “M” could stand for moron.

Mr. Manafort made this money by working with Viktor Yanukovych, who ran for president of Ukraine in 2010 and was infamous for his pro-Russian policies. With Manafort’s help, Mr. Yanukovych secured the nomination. The money came from several Ukrainian oligarchs with a vested interest in Yanukovych’s success.

The guilty verdict comes on the heels of another important development. Michael Cohen, who used to be President Donald Trump’s lawyer, plead guilty to violating campaign finance law in his alleged dealings with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who have both had reported relations with President Trump that he allegedly attempted to keep secret.

President Trump continues to insist that the Mueller probe is nothing more than a witch hunt, but that doesn’t square up with the fact that five people have already pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the investigation. It seems obvious to me that they’re doing this because they were all involved in what we should be calling treason, and now that everything is hitting the fan, they’re seeking an escape.

Of course, our president would resent that argument, and probably say that they’re all in on it, cutting some secret deal with the 13 Angry Democrats. It’s ridiculous. The facts, paired with a little common sense, paint a very different picture.

In short, Donald Trump is circling the drain. Slowly but surely, Mueller’s investigation is grinding through all of the president’s lackeys, and will eventually end with him. And he knows it. The Manafort trial is only the first of several that we will see. Mueller is coming, and frankly, if I could give Donald some advice, it would be to say his prayers.

The Elm

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