There was/is a lot of money flowing around Moscow. One gets the sense that between The Podesta Group (closely tied of course with the Clintons) The Uranium One deal (more Clintons), and Manafort’s Russian political business that the Washington pols saw real wealth opportunities with the Putin regime. Russia is a crony state, and cronies tend to congregate.
It should be noted that Trump fired Manafort. As The New York Times reported in the summer of 2016:
Paul Manafort, a professional Republican political operative since the 1970s, was supposed to impose order on Donald J. Trump’s chaotic presidential campaign.
On Friday, the chaos devoured him.
Weeks of sliding poll numbers and false starts had sapped Mr. Manafort’s credibility inside the campaign. A cooling relationship with Mr. Trump — who had taken to calling Mr. Manafort “low energy,” the epithet he once used to mock a former rival, Jeb Bush — turned hot last weekend when the candidate erupted, blaming Mr. Manafort for a damaging newspaper article detailing the campaign’s internal travails, according to three people briefed on the episode…
…But Mr. Trump never developed the sort of chemistry or comfort level with Mr. Manafort that he had with Mr. Lewandowski, campaign aides said. Mr. Trump has continued to seek out the advice of Mr. Lewandowski, who remains a fierce rival of Mr. Manafort.
Nor did Mr. Trump ever quite buy into what Mr. Manafort was selling.
It should also be noted that Manafort ran the Trump campaign for only 3 months. Though his efforts may have been important during the GOP convention. (But Trump was never in real danger of losing the nomination. Kasich wasn’t exactly a formidable opponent.) Manafort had worked for Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bob Dole in campaign consultant capacities and so presumably sought to smooth the feathers of the GOP establishment. (Which has/had a strong “never Trump” factor.)
It is interesting that Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta (who was never fired and even ran the Obama White House) has his own very questionable connections to Russia. As The New York Post reported earlier this year:
During a heated Fox Business interview with Maria Bartiromo, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chief John Podesta made a series of misleading statements when questioned about his involvement in a company that received $35 million from the Russian government while Clinton served as secretary of state.
On Jan. 18, 2011, a small green-energy company named Joule Unlimited announced Podesta’s appointment to its board. Months later, Rusnano, a Kremlin-backed investment fund founded by Vladimir Putin, pumped $35 million into Joule. Serving alongside Podesta on Joule’s board were senior Russian official Anatoly Chubais and oligarch Ruben Vardanyan, who has been appointed by Putin to a Russian economic modernization council…
…And what about Podesta’s contention that Putin’s investment fund represented a “small investment” in Joule? In 2012 the company claimed it had raised $110 million to date.
That meant the Kremlin-backed $35 million investment given to Joule after Podesta’s board appointment represented over 30 percent of Joule’s outside financing.
There’s also this inconvenient fact: In 2016, Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, where Joule board member Reuben Vardanyan formerly served as head of its investment banking division, had a $170,000 lobbying contract with the Podesta Group — which is owned by John Podesta’s brother, Tony Podesta.
Yes, in addition to John’s ties to Moscow his brother Tony (who just stepped down in the face of the Mueller investigation) had deep ties to Russia and company also.
What we see is a political class on the take. This should be a surprise to no one. Manafort’s dealings should not be a surprise. Nor should those of the Podesta’s, the Clintons, or anyone else. We have a deeply crony system. There are a lot of jerks in Washington. This is our country at the moment. And it’s not like these people are going to reform themselves.
The trail of Manafort’s decade of dealings 5,000 miles from America’s capital is murky. But the previously unreported flight records, spanning from late 2004 through 2015, reflect a man seemingly always on the move. Over those years, Manafort visited Ukraine at least 138 times. His trips between Ukraine and Moscow all occurred between 2005 and 2011 and were mostly in 2005 and 2006.
Prosecutors have charged that Manafort and associate Rick Gates funneled through a maze of foreign accounts at least $75 million in consulting fees from an array of Kremlin-leaning clients: Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who secretly paid them $10 million annually for several years; a second Ukrainian oligarch; and the ruling Party of Regions, which supported Yanukovych until corruption allegations and bloody protests led to his overthrow in February 2014.
Maloni said Manafort’s trips to Russia were “related to his work on behalf of Oleg Deripaska’s commercial interests.”