President Trump, in a wide-ranging phone interview Thursday evening with Sean Hannity, made it clear that much will be revealed in the coming days about what was really going in Obama’s Justice Department and FBI, and perhaps higher. Now that Mueller has finally concluded his investigation after failing to make the case for a Trump/Russia conspiracy to affect the 2016 election, it’s obvious that Trump has simply had enough of this lunacy. He is done. As he has known from the start, this was an investigation based on nothing. There is no point in continuing this farce, so not only is he telling congressional Democrats where they can put their subpoenas –- that means you, Jerry Nadler –- he’s also getting ready to declassify a multitude of documents --- even, he says, beyond the ones that have been discussed. It can’t come too soon.
In the meantime, John Solomon is busier than ever, breaking important news just about every day. Much of it right now has to do with Ukraine and helps explain why so much focus was placed on Paul Manafort in the investigation of Trump. Significantly, he has uncovered one of the earliest documented efforts to set in motion the phony Trump/Russia collusion narrative. It also happens to be one of the first to involve the White House.
After investigating Manafort briefly in 2014 for improper lobbying for a foreign government, the FBI dropped the case. But in 2016, after he became Trump’s campaign manager, it was miraculously revived and expanded. After Trump became President, the special counsel went after Manafort with a vengeance and handed his case off to a couple of U.S. district courts. (Manafort never did any “singing,” or, as Alan Dershowitz calls it, “composing,” against Trump, even though they kept him in solitary confinement (!) for months and ended up sending him to prison for what could very likely turn out to be a life sentence.)
So, how did Manfort get tangled up in the Trump/Russia “collusion” narrative? After his case was dropped with no charges in 2014, it had seemed as if his legal woes related to that were over. But a former political official at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington, DC, Victor Telizhenko, has a story to tell about how that investigation got mysteriously started up again. In January of 2016, just as Trump was starting to take off in his run for the presidency, Telizhenko was tasked with setting up some meetings for the Obama White House with Ukrainian authorities, ostensibly to help them with their internal anti-corruption efforts.
As Solomon can confirm through numerous accounts, “the gathering brought some of Ukraine’s top corruption prosecutors and investigators face-to-face with members of...President Obama’s National Security Council (NSC), the FBI, the State Department and Department of Justice (DOJ)." The agenda was supposed to be “training and coordination,” but according to multiple Ukrainian participants, administration officials changed the focus, both during the meetings and afterwards. They made it clear that they wanted to revive the closed case concerning payments to Americans from Ukraine’s Russia-backed Party of Regions (that’s the 2014 Manafort case).
As Solomon explains, Manafort’s firm was tied to Donald Trump through his partner Roger Stone, who was a friend of Trump.
Telizhenko and other attendees recall the DOJ officials asking members of Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) if they could help locate new evidence concerning the payments that had been made to Americans. It became clear that even though payments were made to others besides Manafort –- notably Greg Craig, who’s only now being charged for failing to register as a foreign lobbyist –- Obama’s people were interested only in Manafort.
The main piece of evidence against Manafort was a black ledger showing payments he received from the Party of Regions. Ukrainian authorities had had it in their possession since the 2014 investigation, but just 10 days after Manafort was appointed as Trump’s campaign chairman –- the announcement was made on May 19, 2016 –- NABU leaked the existence of the ledger to the media. As a result, Manafort resigned as campaign chairman in August.
Why should we trust what these Ukrainian officials are saying now? After all, Ukraine is rife with corruption and its own Russian “meddling,” Well, as it turns out, Department of Justice documents back it up. According to Solomon, DOJ emails show that on May 30, 2016, Nellie Ohr, who was working for Fusion GPS, alerted her husband Bruce Ohr, who was fourth in command at the DOJ, plus two DOJ prosecutors specializing in international crimes, Lisa Holtyn and Joseph Wheatley, that the black ledger documents had been discovered. “Reported Trove of documents on Ukrainian Party of Regions Black Cashbox,” she wrote, attaching a news article about the ledger.
Also, Bruce Ohr made notes of conversations he had with Christopher Steele about it. They were trying to get Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, whose business relationship with Manafort had soured, to talk to U.S. officials about him. This got as far as a September 2016 meeting with the FBI, in which they asked Deripaska if he could hep them prove Manafort was helping Trump collude with Russia. Deripaska laughed and called that idea preposterous. (Now that the special counsel investigation is over with no “collusion” charges, we know he was telling the truth --- it WAS preposterous.)
Incidentally, there was another case the U.S. officials wanted to talk to the Ukrainians about: the one involving Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, who was on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company under investigation for improper foreign transfers of money. According to bank records, an American firm tied to Hunter Biden received $3 million in 2014-15. The American officials told them they wanted Kiev to drop their investigation into Burisma and let the FBI look into it. The Ukrainians didn’t want to. But then Joe Biden pressured Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire Ukraine’s chief prosecutor. The case was transferred to NABU and then shut down. (We’ve recently discussed this case. No doubt it will be receiving much scrutiny in the coming months, now that Biden has officially entered the 2020 campaign. It’s just one of many reasons Joe Biden should not be President.)
Anyway, as determined as Robert Mueller obviously was to find Russian “collusion,” he sure was looking in the wrong places. Gosh, he didn’t turn up any at all. Oh, wait, I forgot –- it only counted if it could be linked to Trump. But thanks to investigative reporters such as John Solomon, we’re learning that there was plenty of collusion, only that it involved Hillary’s campaign, the DNC and the highest levels of the Obama administration.
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