November 18th 2017


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COVER STORY Full audit can end dual-citizenship fiasco

CANBERRA OBSERVED High Court high handed to 'foreigners' in Parliament

MANUFACTURING Auto industry loss result of government policy failure

AGENDA FOR AUSTRALIA Financing infrastructure for development and jobs

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Behind the indictments of ex-Trump campaigners

AUSTRALIAN HISTORY Beersheba charge enabled a pivotal victory

ECONOMICS China intends to party like it's 1949 ... again

ENVIRONMENT Core of climate science is in the real-world data

U.S. HISTORY Why Americans stick to their guns

MUSIC New styles: Dipping into the melting pot

CINEMA Loving Vincent: A mystery in oils

BOOK REVIEW Just what is the conservative idea?

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Behind the indictments of ex-Trump campaigners


by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, November 18, 2017

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has laid a series of charges against a former aide to Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, and his long-time business partner Rick Gates, alleging conspiracy to launder money, making false statements and other charges in connection with their work for a Russia-aligned political party, the Party of Regions in Ukraine, and the former government of Ukraine, between 2006 and 2016.

Paul Manafort

The charges relate to a time long before Trump appointed Manafort chairman of his election committee in 2016. Trump dismissed him some months later, before the 2016 election.

Paul Manafort, a political lobbyist, has long-standing connections with the U.S. Republican Party. He played a big role in the nomination of Gerald Ford at the 1976 Republican National Convention. Ford was able to beat Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole at a convention where there was no clear nominee, according to the American TV network, ABC News.

Manafort later worked for presidents Reagan and George W.H. Bush. Donald Trump has known him since the 1980s.

Russian link

Of particular relevance to the current charges, from 2006 Manafort was a paid adviser to the Party of Regions in Ukraine, a pro-Russian party led by Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort helped him win the presidency in 2010.

Manafort and Gates were later on the payroll of the pro-Russian Ukrainian government, led by Yanukovych. Yanukovych was deposed in 2014 after he overrode the Ukrainian parliament’s declared intention to sign an economic agreement with the European Union, by signing an agreement with Russia binding Ukraine to Russia politically and economically.

It was later revealed that Yanukovych was extraordinarily corrupt, and had enriched himself while president, living a lavish lifestyle in a secret government-provided mansion. His palatial residence included a private zoo, underground shooting range, 18-hole golf course, tennis courts and bowling facilities. His private wealth was estimated to be $16 billion. He is on an Interpol watch list for official corruption.

After being deposed, Yanukovych fled to Russia, where he currently lives.

Manafort’s firm lobbied in the United States on behalf of Yanukovych, but he did not disclose his work as a foreign agent, as required by U.S. law. He only registered as a foreign agent on June 27, 2017.

Manafort became involved in Donald Trump’s election campaign at a time when Trump was effectively campaigning against the Republican Party’s preferred candidates for president. Trump was then a rank outsider to win the Republican nomination, let alone the presidency.

It seems that U.S. intelligence agencies warned the Trump campaign that Manafort was close to the Russians, because Manafort left the Trump campaign in August 2016, nearly three months before the U.S. presidential election.

The U.S. Justice Department charges against Manafort and Gates allege that they received millions of dollars in payments from their Ukrainian clients between 2006 and 2016, they failed to declare that they were acting as lobbyists for a foreign government, they failed to declare their income for taxation purposes, and they were involved in money laundering to get the money into the United States, to disguise its source.

Although Donald Trump called for improved ties with Russia during the election campaign, and Hillary Clinton repeatedly accused him of being beholden to the Kremlin, there is no evidence that Trump ever had close ties with Russia or its leader, Vladimir Putin.

It is also obvious that the Russians preferred Trump as president to Hillary Clinton. The Russians blamed President Barack Obama and Mrs Clinton for the Syrian war in which Russia has become deeply engaged in opposition to the U.S. (Most other governments preferred Clinton to Trump.)

It is also clear that Russia, like other countries including China, as well as the vast forces of the American media, tried to influence the course of the U.S. presidential election.

The Russian efforts, which included advertisements on Twitter and Facebook, as well as the activities of the Russian RT media network, supported Trump. But their efforts were minuscule compared with the efforts of the major parties in the U.S., not to mention both American and foreign media networks (including the BBC and Al Jazeera), that backed Mrs Clinton.

Since Trump was elected President, Russia has repeatedly refused to cooperate with him on matters of mutual concern, including resolving the crisis in Ukraine and reining in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. As a result, the U.S. Congress has passed laws that strengthen sanctions on Russia. These sanctions were originally introduced after the Russian annexation of Crimea and military operations in Eastern Ukraine.

On August 2, 2017, President Trump signed the Russia Sanctions Bill, which was overwhelmingly supported by both Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Trump said he had reservations about the bill, which also cited Russian cyber-espionage, but said he had signed it in the national interest.




























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