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The Manafort Indictment

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I interrupt your day to do a little jig about the Mueller investigation.

For those of us who have been waiting almost a year for some good news, yesterday’s indictment of Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates was a real lift. The bonus news that someone who had been flying under the radar — George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign — is now a cooperating witness and has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI (which is, I think, a sin in addition to being a felony.)

And has anybody gotten a card from Mike Flynn lately? I didn’t think so. Halloween just got a little scarier at the White House.

“What the hell is this?” (Pause.) “They’re sending you a message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.”

I feel so much better now. It’s not that I wasn’t cheered up in February, when the first reports of Manafort’s alleged money laundering surfaced. I was! Or that I didn’t brighten measurably when news of the July 26 predawn raid on Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia home surfaced. I did!

Yet…it was time, I felt, for an axe to fall. On someone. Anyone. There were only so many times that I could comfort myself by remembering that Robert Mueller III is so damn good at his job that, as a United States Attorney, he acquired the affectionate pseudo-mob nickname, “Bobby Three Sticks.” There were only so many months I could stay up half the night watching Rachel Maddow sift through obscure documents that might — or might not — have any significance, before I began to worry that maybe Kellyanne Conway was right: black is white, white is black, and the United States has lost its collective mind. There are only so many leaks or rumors of leaks that a person can absorb without beginning to worry about whether everything really is fake news after all. I thought: maybe justice went and died when I wasn’t looking? Maybe, I thought, it’s actually normal for women to drench their eyes in Maybelline like Sarah Huckabee Sanders?

The only thing that could  put a stop to the insanity was an indictment or two. I needed indictments.

And here they are. According to yesterday’s New York Times, President Donald J. Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort

surrendered to the F.B.I. and pleaded not guilty to charges that he laundered millions of dollars through overseas shell companies — using the money to buy luxury cars, real estate, antique rugs and expensive clothes. Rick Gates, Mr. Manafort’s longtime associate as well as a campaign adviser, was also charged and turned himself in.

But information that could prove most politically damaging to Mr. Trump came an hour later, when Mr. Mueller announced that George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, had pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. and was cooperating with investigators. In court documents released on Monday, federal investigators said they suspected that Russian intelligence services had used intermediaries to contact Mr. Papadopoulos to gain influence with the campaign, offering “dirt” on Mrs. Clinton in April 2016 in the form of “thousands of emails.”

Mr. Papadopoulos secretly pleaded guilty weeks ago to lying to the F.B.I. about those contacts and has been cooperating with Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors for months.

You can read the full document here. It’s juicy. And as it turns out, Mr. Papadapoulos may have been wearing a wire.

“Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.”

So I have decided to celebrate by creating a little — well, tracking device — a game of sorts, that I call “Indictment Tic Tac Toe,” and you can play it with me as the news rolls out. It’s easy. When an indictment is released, put an X over that person’s face: when you complete a row, you win! And so does the nation! You can download your very own copy here.

And have a happy, happy Halloween.

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