Earlier, the Wall Street Journal discovered that a small Chicago bank had loaned former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his companies about $16 million soon after Donald Trump had won the presidency—a number that aroused prosecutor suspicion because it represented about a quarter of the bank’s available capital, seemingly a high risk venture for a small bank.
Now we may have a better idea of why he needed that money?
Financial records filed last year in the secretive tax haven of Cyprus, where Paul J. Manafort kept bank accounts during his years working in Ukraine and investing with a Russian oligarch, indicate that he had been in debt to pro-Russia interests by as much as $17 million before he joined Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign in March 2016.
The money appears to have been owed by shell companies connected to Mr. Manafort’s business activities in Ukraine when he worked as a consultant to the pro-Russia Party of Regions.
A spokesman for Manafort told the New York Times that the records of the debt were “stale”, though he did not dispute that the debts had existed.
“Manafort is not indebted to Mr. Deripaska or the Party of Regions, nor was he at the time he began working for the Trump campaign,” Mr. Maloni said. “The broader point, which Mr. Manafort has maintained from the beginning, is that he did not collude with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.”
Well now, that denial escalated quickly.
So to recap: Real estate and political consulting entrepreneur Paul Manafort, who had previously worked on behalf of pro-Russian interests in Ukraine, owed “pro-Russian interests” roughly $17 million dollars as of December of 2015. In March he went to work for the Donald Trump campaign—but requested no salary, despite being apparently deeply in debt, instead working for free, thus landing him in, for example, meetings involving government-connected Russians offering up intelligence on his opponent.
Then, after Donald Trump is elected, Paul Manafort is curiously given roughly $16 million-ish in loans from a Chicago bank that would seemingly be only barely capable of loaning him such money.
As with all things Trump, this could all be yet another string of glorious coincidences. Or, alternatively, we are living in a television drama, and one with such a poorly written and hamfisted plot that viewers are hard pressed not to roll their eyes backwards into their skulls with each new revelation.
It’s a tough call, isn’t it?