Someone I was discussing the Mueller investigation with defended Trump by arguing, “Manafort is a sleeze who deserves his punishment for money laundering, violations of foreign agent laws, etc. But he is not some character out of a Tom Clancy novel.” Recent events should make him reconsider this statement. The Russia investigation, and Manafort in particular, has turned rather Tom Clancy-ish. I suspect Tom Clancy would be proud to introduce elements like these into his books.
- Coded messages with Russians using black Russian caviar as a euphemism for cash.
- A secret meeting in an elite New York City cigar bar with everyone leaving through separate doors. The meeting is in a room reserved by the President’s son.
- At that secret meeting Americans, close to the future President of the United States, physically exchange secrets with a Russian spy to avoid creating an electronic trail.
- The secrets were campaign information to help a Russian GRU plot to elect to President the man Russia wants.
- Secret emails to a Russian billionaire offering private access to the President’s campaign.
- Secret negotiations to ignore the Russian invasion of another country in consideration for their assistance to the eventual President’s campaign.
- A man with a tattoo of a notorious figure on his back making an actual death threat against a witness, and for good measure, his little dog too.
- The aforementioned dog was the witness’s emotional support animal. So much so that when that witness eventually testified to a grand jury he brought the dog with him.
On July 7, 2016 Paul Manafort emailed Oleg Deripaska, a Russian aluminum industry billionaire with whom Manafort had previously done business, offering to provide private briefings on the Trump Campaign. Manafort’s email said, “If he needs private briefings we can accommodate.” Manafort was indebted to Russians with ties to Deripaska and was attempting to peddle influence, to include access to the future American President, as a means of paying off those debts.
On July 29 2016 Russian operative Konstantin Kilimnik emailed Paul Manafort a cryptic message saying he just met a man who gave Manafort “the biggest black caviar jar several years ago.” Investigators believe “black caviar jar” is a reference to money. Kilimnik said he and caviar man talked for five hours and that Kilimnik had important messages to relay to Manafort. Kilimnik asked Manafort when they could meet. Manafort replied, “Tuesday would be best.” The Tuesday would be August 2d (see below). If that whole “black caviar jar” was not Tom Clancy-ish enough for you, let’s talk about that meeting.
On August 2, 2016 Paul Manafort and Rick Gates secretly met with Russian operative Konstantin Kilimnik (who will later be indicted with Manafort for a variety of international business crimes). The clandestine meeting takes place in a private cigar room (the “Grand Havana” room) a few blocks from Trump Tower ( it was at 666 5th Avenue, a building owned by Jared Kushner). At last weeks hearing Mueller prosecutors said the meeting goes to the “very much to the heart of what the special counsel’s office is investigating” and that “what happened at that meeting — is of significance to the special counsel.” Manafort and Gates were not members of the exclusive club. It appears they may have used Trump Junior’s membership for the appointment. The meeting was so secret the three participants left via separate doors.
At the meeting Manafort handed over to Kilimnik Trump Campaign polling data and discussed possible resolutions for the Ukraine crisis. The quid pro quo apparently discussed was one where the Russians would help Trump get elected in exchange for relaxing of sanctions against them. The polling data Manafort provided the Russian spy allowed the GRU to better target its efforts to meddle in the election.
Mueller prosecutors now allege that Manafort breached his cooperation agreement with them by lying about what occurred at this meeting. Manafort told Mueller’s team that they just chit chatted about mutual clients who were not paying their bills. This is part of what blew up Manafort’s cooperation with Mueller leading the judge in an order dated February 13, 2019 to declare Mueller was no longer bound by the agreement. This is likely to greatly increase Manafort’s sentence that now, barring a pardon, will probably result in him dying in prison. What could make Manafort take such a risk? Food for thought.
The man with the notorious figure tattooed on his back is the recently indicted Roger Stone and the tattoo is of Richard Nixon. Totally serious, this is it.
Stone’s indictment details a number of charges to include allegations of witness intimidation. That intimidation includes a death threat against Randy Credico, an associate of Stone’s. Stone did not want Credico to testify to Mueller’s grand jury, urging him to plead the 5th instead. At first Credico did plead the 5th, but did eventually testify. To which, according to the indictment:
On or about April 9, 2018, STONE wrote in an email to Credico, “You are a rat. A stoolie. You backstab your friends-run your mouth my lawyers are dying [to] Rip you to shreds.” STONE also said he would “take that dog away from you,” referring to Credico’s dog. On or about the same day, STONE wrote to Credico, “I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die [expletive].”
Credico’s dog is a service animal designated an emotional support animal by Credico. He’s so dependent on her that he brought her to the grand jury when he testified.