Donald Trump is no stranger to controversy. The billionaire politician has been practically steeped in scandals since announcing his run for President in June of 2015. Trump has blamed many of these controversies on the “crooked media,” which may very well be accurate. Now, however, The Donald’s campaign adviser Paul Manafort is the one in hot water. MSN recently dove into the discomforting news connecting Manafort to a scandal in Ukraine, where Paul was once an adviser to the ruling political party.
“[government investigators]… try to untangle a corrupt network they say was used to loot Ukrainian assets and influence elections during the administration of Mr. Manafort’s main client, former President Viktor F. Yanukovych.”
Did Manafort profit from the misfortune of others? The evidence is a tad circumstantial, though logic would seem to suggest the answer is “Yes.” Still, there aren’t any clear answers just yet, as the investigation is still under way. All of this, of course, begs the question: Did The Don have any prior knowledge of Paul Manafort’s alleged double dipping?
Paul And Donald: A History
Ballotpedia found that Mr. Manafort has been with the Trump camp since March 2016, and is largely responsible for the message Donald presents to the public. Seeing as Manafort’s supposed transgression took place long before that, it’s unlikely Trump would have knowledge of it or would think to bring it up. Still, the way the media presents the findings of the Ukraine investigation could have a crucial impact on both Trump and Manafort’s careers.
Shadow Accounting At Play?
CNN found that the Ukraine probe might be looking for “Shadow Accounting”, a method in which two sets of financial records are used to highlight and correct any mistakes. For Shadow Accounting to be plausible, though, Manafort would have to have someone on the inside fixing the books in his favor. Not necessarily a huge stretch, but probably also not the easiest subject for Manafort to find a willing expert on.
What Does This Mean For Manafort And Trump?
While it’s true that Trump’s campaign has suffered numerous attacks, it’s equally true that he’s found a way to rebound from every one. In some instances, he’s even been able to turn his weaknesses into strengths, not entirely to the discredit of Paul Manafort.
One moment that comes to mind was when the press raked Trump over the coals for stating that he would “build a huge wall” to keep Mexican immigrants out of the U.S. Even though Latinos were none too happy about his claims, Trump kept making “build a gigantic wall” a part of his rallying cry and claiming that Mexico was “killing us” on trade. This sat well with a good deal of grassroots voters.
So, will the scandal hurt Manafort and Trump’s careers? Yes. Is it Manafort’s death-knell and an instant knockout for Hillary Clinton? Not necessarily. At the end of the day, Trump is successful and savvy. He knows how to handle the press (he’s likely been doing so since long before he was a Presidential nominee), and he tells his followers what they want (or perhaps need) to hear.
Crooked Hillary Clinton is being protected by the media. She is not a talented person or politician. The dishonest media refuses to expose!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2016
As for Manafort, the question of whether his career can survive is an ever-changing one. No doubt Mr. Manafort’s image will be tainted should he be found guilty, but will that be enough to get him “fired” by The Donald? Many suspect Trump himself to have profited from the financial crisis by encouraging college students to buy credit they could not afford at his University, according to the Washington Post. Perhaps he will forgive Paul if the allegations turn out to be true.
Then, there is the opposite possibility. It’s quite feasible that Manafort could still be proclaimed innocent. If these illegal transactions really did happen, why was there neither an investigation nor any repercussions? As the International Business Times will tell you, President Yanukovych was ousted in Feb. 2014, so why has there been no formal inquiry since? Are we to assume that every single government official is corrupt and/or incompetent?
Exclusive: $12.7M in cash was earmarked for Paul Manafort, Trump campaign chairman, from pro-Russia party in Ukraine https://t.co/tMr1Dt26id— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) August 15, 2016
Fortune did note, though, that Trump has been oddly friendly with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, even taking an uncharacteristically calm stance towards the Russian invasion of Crimea. Does this have to do with the fact that Ukraine was once part of the former USSR? Perhaps Trump either tolerates Manafort’s sins or is trying to avoid Russia exposing them?
The Daily 202: Can Trump chairman Paul Manafort survive new Ukraine revelations? https://t.co/qO77Dbeb8I— Mike Signorile (@MSignorile) August 16, 2016
There are decent reasons to assume that Manafort is guilt or innocent. Whatever the verdict, though, Manafort’s career will not likely be a victim of the scandal. Trump’s campaign has shown themselves to be experts at getting the reaction they want from the media and the public, whether that involves controversial commentary or throwing mud at political opponents. And who better to try and direct to try and redirect the press’ attentions than Paul Manafort himself?
[Image Via Win McNamee/Getty Images]