Paul Manafort’s association with Russian puppet Viktor Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine, became toxic this week with the discovery of a “secret ledger” for monies allegedly funneled to Manafort and more detail on his work enabling Yanukovych to seize power and make off with billions before leaving for — where else? –Russia. The Post reported, “The discovery of the ledger could trigger scrutiny of Manafort’s connections to Ukraine by FBI officials, who have been on the ground in Kiev working under a June agreement with the anti-corruption agency.” And sure enough, Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign today.
Manafort’s connections to unsavory characters was no secret. His ties to Yanukovych and to horrendous human rights abusers have been widely reported. What brought it to a head was the potential for documentation and the concern he may have broken U.S. law in failing to register as a foreign lobbyist. None of this bothered Trump enough to part ways — until the vivid details emerged this week.
Think of this like the $400 million in cash shipped to Iran: We knew money changed hands, but knowing the details made it front page news.
It is not clear whether Manafort left because of the Russia problem or because there really is no Trump campaign to speak of. Tiny ad buys, no real ground game and no strategic plan to reach 270 electoral votes evidence either Manafort’s incompetence or lack of influence with Trump, or both.
This portrait of chaos — new campaign chiefs Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, scandal enveloping his ex-campaign chief, Trump’s plummeting poll numbers — really should not come as any surprise. Trump operates and has always operated as a one-man band, playing off his name and insatiable desire to stay in the spotlight. The raft of failed businesses including the casino bankruptcies attest to the lack of his ability to manage an enterprise. If the campaign is the best gauge of how a candidate would govern we know Trump’s would be bogged down by controversy, shady characters, rhetoric gaffes by the bucket load, and constant crisis and conflict within his own organization. We’re old enough to remember when Trump was running on his “genius” as a businessman and his promise to hire only the “best” people.
It just shows again that Hillary Clinton, no stranger to dysfunction and controversy, really hit pay dirt when she drew Trump as an opponent.