November 13, 2017
Paul Manafort, an ex chairman and chief strategist for the Trump campaign, joined the team in March of 2016; he left a few months later after reports surfaced about his possible ties to Russia. Manafort previously worked as a lobbyist for a Ukrainian pro-Russia political party lead by former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. After his return to the U.S., Manafort received an undocumented $12.7 million from said party. It was revealed on Monday, October 30th that Manafort, with his associate Rick Gates, was storing $18 million in offshore shell accounts in Cyprus and the Grenadines to avoid paying income taxes on his salary in Ukraine and to spend his extra cash on real estate, cars, suits, and antiquities. The economy of Cyprus affects the Russian economy, so when Manafort stored his money in Cyprus, it also boosted the Russian economy.
Rick Gates was Manafort’s protégé and associate when they both worked on the Trump campaign. Both are facing charges for conspiracy, embezzlement, tax evasion, and lying to the FBI during an investigation into Trump’s campaign and cabinet that began last year. On Monday, they went before the court and pled not guilty on all accounts.
Separately on October 30th, George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser on the Trump campaign, pled guilty to all charges of lying to the FBI during investigations about the extent, nature, and timing of his relationship with a Russian professor who had direct ties to Russian officials. He made contact with the professor during last year’s election campaign in order to find “dirt” on election competitor Hillary Clinton.
Thus far, nothing has proven any of their actions had any influence on Trump’s election or campaign in general. Nonetheless, after Manafort’s and Gates’ indictment, the belief that Trump will be impeached rose to 38% on Predict It, a political market predicting website controlled by online gamblers. On the site, there is only a 57% agreement on the prediction that Trump will remain in office until December of 2019. Still, the impeachment probability, in reality, remains low due to the strong republican control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Only the future will tell how this ordeal will end.