November 3—On the eve of President Trump's historic trip to Asia, during which he will meet with China's President Xi Jinping, and possibly with Russian President Putin, special counsel and legal assassin Robert Mueller unsealed on October 31 the first indictments of Trump allies, former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates. Mueller also announced that George Papadapoulos, a member of the President's foreign policy advisory committee, had entered a guilty plea for lying to FBI agents. The anti-Trump media erupted in glee to these announcements, heralding them as the first steps to bringing to an end the Trump presidency. While there was an air of satisfaction in the reporting on Manafort, there was special excitement over the Papadopoulos plea agreement, with some commentators hailing this as a "smoking gun", which proves allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
That the timing was in part determined by Trump's impending visit to Asia was made clear when CNN commentator David Gergen stated that, in the face of this legal attack, Trump should cancel his trip. Gergen, who served under four Presidents, both Republicans and Democrats, is a leading voice for the ruling Trans-Atlantic establishment, which is frantically attempting to derail the effort to bring the U.S. into cooperation with China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), also known as the New Silk Road.
But a deeper look at Mueller's first charges reveals that not only is there no smoking gun in the Papadopoulos case, but that there is no connection between the charges against Manafort and Gates, and "Russiagate," which is what Mueller is supposed to be investigating. What is more likely the case is that the money laundering and tax evasion charges, among the twelve counts against Manafort, represent an attempt to "flip" him, by threatening him with such a long prison sentence that he will be convinced to lie about Russia's role in electing Trump, and Trump's collusion with Russia. This is a typical example of prosecutorial bullying tactics, employed in "white collar" criminal investigations, when evidence is lacking to prove the prosecutor's theory—in this case, that Trump won the election with the aid of Russian intervention in the campaign, to favor him over Hillary Clinton. The pressure on Mueller to produce something increased with the revelations of Clinton campaign funding the "dirty dossier" against Trump, produced by "former" British intelligence operative Christopher Steele, who was hired by Fusion GPS; and by the fact that his investigation has turned up no evidence whatsoever of Russian "hacking", or blackmailing of Trump, despite insistence by U.S. intelligence agencies that they "know" it happened.
WHO IS PAUL MANAFORT
Manafort is a long-time political operative who helped secure the Republican nomination and subsequent election of Presidents Ford in 1976, Reagan in 1980 and 1984, and G.H.W. Bush in 1988. His successful record, and his long-time collaboration with Roger Stone, his former partner, who was instrumental in developing the strategy behind Trump's primary victories, were the reasons he was brought into the Trump campaign in June 2016. He became an unpaid campaign manager, and assured that the effort by the Bush-led neocon Republican establishment to deny Trump the nomination was defeated. He left the campaign in August, when he became a target for unsubstantiated charges that he was part of the Russian-directed subversion of the U.S. election.
The targeting of Manafort is likely connected to the role he played as an adviser to former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of the Regions. He was hired by the party in 2010, and helped Yanukovych win the presidency that year. Yanukovych was overthrown in the violent regime change coup in February 2014, orchestrated by British and U.S. intelligence services, with neocon Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Victoria Nuland playing a key role. The Ukraine coup, fully backed by the Obama administration, with armed neo-Nazi militia serving as the muscle, provided the excuse for U.S. sanctions against Russia, when President Putin moved to protect ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, who were being threatened by the Kiev regime, and pushed a referendum which led to Crimea being reincorporated into Russia. During his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly attacked the regime change tactics used by Obama and his Secretary of State Clinton, urging instead dialogue and cooperation with Putin.
Trump's statements placed him in direct opposition to those establishment figures who opposed any challenge to the unipolar world order, under Anglo-American domination. Trump warned that use of regime change coups and eastward extension of NATO posed a risk of nuclear war with Russia. Hillary Clinton was supported by promoters of this world order, and repeatedly attacked Trump during the campaign for his calls for dialogue with Putin.
In a court memo filed on Manafort's indictment by Mueller's leading attack dog Andrew Weissman, Manafort is described as a "flight risk", and asks that he be held under house arrest, and that bail be set at $10 million. If found guilty, Manafort faces a 12.5 to 15.5 year sentence. His former partner Roger Stone pointed out that Manafort's indictment "has nothing to do with Russiagate. The goal is to pressure him to bear false witness against the President." He is treating Manafort "like a mafia drug kingpin." Calling this "neo-McCarthyism," Stone said that "If you're not in favor of thermonuclear war with Russia over Syria, then you're a traitor to the U.S." He added that he believes that Manafort "will fight these charges to the death, and will not 'flip'—Mueller's plan will fail." Even the rabidly anti-Trump Washington Post acknowledged in an October 30 preview of the indictments the weakness of Mueller's case against Manafort. "Does this [Manafort's indictment]," the article asks, "prove that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia? No."
WHO IS PAPADOPOULOS
One of the ironies in Mueller's timing in releasing the indictments of Manafort and Gates at the same time he announced the plea agreement with George Papadapoulos is that Manafort was one of several Trump aides who opposed the harebrained scheme being pushed by Papadapoulos. A 30-year old with virtually no foreign policy experience and no prior connection to Trump, he was appointed during the campaign to the largely ceremonial "foreign policy advisory committee". He immediately began sending a barrage of emails claiming that he could arrange a meeting between Trump and "high-level Russian officials." He said he had a connection with a "Russian professor", who he said told him in a meeting in London on April 26, 2016 that the Russians had emails which had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. He also claimed to have met, through the professor, a relative of Putin, possibly his niece. In one of the emails he sent in April 2016 to Corey Lewandoski, who was then Trump's campaign manager, he wrote "Putin wants to host the Trump team when the time is right."
It turns out that the professor is Joseph Mifsud, a somewhat shadowy figure who is not Russian, but Maltese, and who denies that he ever said he had access to "dirt" on Hillary, or connections to the Kremlin. There was no "Putin niece" who turned up, and there was never a meeting set up by Papadapoulos for a member of Trump's team. An additional anomaly in Papadapoulos' story is that prior to being brought onto the Trump committee as a "foreign policy expert", he had worked for some of the neocon institutions, such as the Hudson Institute, which favored the anti-Russian positions which Trump attacked during his campaign. Suddenly, he presented himself as an advocate of Trump's anti-neocon policies!
An additional, highly-suspicious element of the Papadapoulus story is that he offered to connect Trump spokesman Boris Epshteyn with a "friend", Sergei Millian of the Russian American Business Association. Millian has been identified as an "indirect" source for the Steele dossier, which is still being used by Mueller's team in preparing their case against the president, despite being discredited as a piece of salacious trash.
Papadapoulos was arrested by the FBI on July 22, 2017, and later pleaded guilty to "lying to the FBI." What is not yet clear is whether he is merely a liar, or was set up to play precisely the role which Mueller has given him. This news service is conducting an investigation into Papadapoulos, as the whole story smells like a joint British intelligence/FBI sting. During the time he was on the Trump committee, he was based in London, and he reportedly attended only one of the monthly meetings. He has two Masters degrees, from the University of London in 2010, and from the London School of Economics. At the time he was pushing the Trump campaign to meet with representatives of the Russian government—none of whom have been identified, and the Russians deny any contact with him—he was the Director of the Centre for International Energy and Natural Resources Law and Security.
Former Reagan administration official David Stockman wrote a column ridiculing this case, "Mueller's Mugging of America: the Case of Baby George Papadapoulos." He writes,
"So, finding no contacts, no meetings, no 'collusion' or anything else validly related to Mueller's mandate, the latter's legal gunslingers came up with the usual default crime...to wit, Papadapoulos allegedly perjured himself....Anyone not involved in the campaign to reverse the 2016 election and remove the Donald from office should be forgiven for splitting a gut laughing when reading this hideous and utterly bogus case against Baby George Papadapoulos."
To his credit, President Trump, while using Twitter to call attention to the obvious fraud in Mueller's investigation, has not been deterred from seeking better relations with Putin, nor from collaboration with China's Xi. By going ahead with the Asia trip, he is moving in precisely the most effective way to defeat the attempted coup against him, by fulfilling his campaign promise to make the world safer and the U.S. prosperous, by overturning the dangerous and bankrupt paradigm of his neocon, neo-liberal City of London/Wall Street adversaries.