Tuesday was a day that Donald Trump won’t forget.
His former personal attorney and longtime fixer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to paying hush money to silence two women who claim they had affairs with him, only days before the 2016 election, and Cohen said under oath in court that Trump had told him to do so. Two minutes later, in Alexandria, his former Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort, was convicted of tax evasion and bank fraud.
Manafort has a long history of representing such unsavory foreign leaders as Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos and Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. He became very wealthy as a consultant to pro-Russian Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovych.
Manafort was instrumental in getting Yanukovych elected president of Ukraine in 2010, but he was ousted and fled to Russia, never to return, after civil war erupted over his pro-Russia policies.
In his inevitable tweets after Tuesday’s verdicts, Trump blasted Cohen but praised Manafort.
Unless pardoned by Trump (a distinct possibility, as Trump has a penchant for doing whatever he wants, regardless of the consequences), Manafort, 69, faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison.
Given that Trump has assiduously courted Russian president Vladimir Putin, it was no great surprise to our Moscow Bureau Chief, Foma Kheroshonsky, when he spotted Manafort arriving at the Kremlin early this morning.
In an exclusive interview, Putin told Kheroshonsky, “Any friend of Donald Trump is a friend of mine, which is why I granted political asylum to Mr. Manafort."
“Mr. Manafort will have full use of my dacha in Sochi. I’ll do everything I can to make his exile pleasant."