John McCain Reportedly Knew About Paul Manafort's Russia Ties In 2008, Refused To Let Him Manage RNC

Damir Mujezinovic

As the New York Times first reported on Saturday, August 25, Senator John McCain died at his home in Arizona. He was 81. News of John McCain's death have been occupying the headlines of world media for the past 48 hours, but recent reportage reveals a curious connection between McCain and President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

John McCain rejected a bid from Paul Manafort to manage the 2008 RNC due to concerns over his ties to Russia, the Atlantic revealed Monday. According to the Atlantic, responsible for putting McCain in touch with Manafort was the late senator's 2008 campaign manager, Rick Davis. Davis, who worked with Manafort for years at a lobbying firm whose top client was Putin-affiliated oligarch Oleg Deripaska, put Deripaska in contact with McCain in the months leading up to the 2008 presidential campaign.

But, after being introduced to Deripaska, John McCain reportedly grew concerned over Manafort's business dealings, ordering Manafort and his partner Rick Davis to sever all ties with Russia. Over the next couple of months, Manafort's desperate attempts to manage the RNC were repeatedly turned down by McCain. In the end, citing evidence of ties to Russian oligarchs, McCain pushed Manafort away from the Republican Party.

But, Paul Manafort returned to the epicenter of Republican politics in style years later, joining then-candidate Donald Trump's presidential campaign team in March 2016. Manafort was Trump's campaign chairman from June to August 2016.

On August 21, 2018, as Vox reported, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty of eight criminal counts: five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failing to file foreign bank account reports. While the jury deadlocked on the other 10 charges Robert Mueller brought against Manafort in Virginia, the former Trump campaign chairman's legal troubles are far from over.

Manafort is now facing a possible prison sentence and awaiting another trial to be held in September. While not directly tied to Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference, Manafort's conviction could be a major milestone for the Russia probe, according to Vox, since Mueller may attempt to pressure Manafort into flipping.

For Mueller, Manafort could be a key piece of the puzzle that is the Russia probe due to his longtime ties to Russia and Putin's oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who is currently under U.S. sanctions.

The case of Paul Manafort could cause more headaches for the POTUS. As Vanity Fair noted, Trump's lawyers indicated that President Trump may look into pardoning Manafort. But, according to legal experts Vanity Fair discussed the matter with, pardoning Manafort could mean new legal troubles for Trump.