Before they were ever hired by the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort and Richard W. “Rick” Gates were operating much like what we’ve come to expect from anyone associated with the corrupt real estate tycoon. Not only did they take pride in successfully concealing their illicit activities, but they brazenly flaunted the spoils of their crimes.
In the Mueller indictment unsealed this morning, details show that both the campaign chairman and his protégé Gates were laundering millions and millions of dollars, not to fund political endeavors, or to finance coups around the world, or anything quite so “spy novel” as all that. They were living out “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” without paying taxes on the money they used.
Section 4 of the indictment’s introduction — the part that sets out everything prosecutors want a grand jury to know about the individuals being charged — shows that for a full decade until at least 2016, the two men illegally laundered at least $21 million as part of a minimum of $75 million that flowed through US and offshore accounts and companies, dummy corporations, and partnerships.
Of that, Manafort was responsible for the vast majority. He profited to the tune of $18 million, while his “apprentice” embezzler, Gates, made off with $3 million himself:
Remember, it was early in 2016, in March, when Manafort joined the Trump presidential campaign. The charging documents include 2017 as an end date range for the activities of the two men, but even if it is assumed that Manafort ceased all activity upon joining the Trump campaign, or even that Trump booted him after finding out internally that these charges would one day come, Gates was not forced out of the campaign:
Unlike Manafort, who was forced out last year, Gates continued to work on the Trump campaign and even the inaugural committee
— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) October 30, 2017
That means that during and well after they were under investigation by the FBI, the Department of Justice, and even the government of Ukraine, they were working for Donald Trump. It was Manafort’s Ukrainian ties to pro-Russian separatists that first sucked him into this investigation in the first place.
As America reeled in horror at having allowed a monster like Trump to be elected to our highest office, those in charge of getting him there were living just like him, in mansions and on yachts, sipping champagne.
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