Money laundering, a “Black Ledger” allegedly containing under the table payments made to Paul Manafort totalling $12.5Million, the sum which caused Manafort’s resignation as Trump’s campaign manager in Summer of ‘16, tax evasion and other charges of political corruption were being actively investigated by Ukraine until just recently. As of late April, such investigations have been relegated to “the long-term box” in an effort to appease Donald Trump and to act as a possible quid pro quo for missile sales. New York Times:
“In every possible way, we will avoid irritating the top American officials,” Mr. [Parliament member Volodymyr] Ariev said in an interview. “We shouldn’t spoil relations with the administration.”
The cases are just too sensitive for a government deeply reliant on United States financial and military aid, and keenly aware of Mr. Trump’s distaste for the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into possible collusion between Russia and his campaign, some lawmakers say.
The decision to halt the investigations by an anticorruption prosecutor was handed down at a delicate moment for Ukraine, as the Trump administration was finalizing plans to sell the country sophisticated anti-tank missiles, called Javelins.
There’s not only the missiles to be considered, there’s also the matter of $600Million annually in aid to the Ukraine military, which may have impacted the decision to halt the investigation.
David Sakvarelidze, a former deputy prosecutor general who is now in the political opposition, said he did not believe that the general prosecutor had coordinated with anybody in the United States on the decision to suspend the investigations in Ukraine, or that there had been a quid pro quo for the missile sale.
Ukrainian politicians, he said, concluded on their own that any help prosecuting Mr. Manafort could bring down Mr. Trump’s wrath.
“Can you imagine,” Mr. Sakvarelidze said, “that Trump writes on Twitter, ‘The United States isn’t going to support any corrupt post-Soviet leaders, including in Ukraine.’ That would be the end of him.”
“Everybody is afraid of this case,” says another member of Parliament, Andrey Derkach. Last summer Derkach initiated an investigation into leaks to the news media about Manafort and Ukrainian law enforcement, saying that they put at risk American aid to Ukraine which is vital. Derkach has openly opposed Ukrainian support of the Mueller investigation, which he calls a “politicized investigation,” and which contains “grave risks” to Ukraine. Finally, there’s this:
In another move seeming to hinder Mr. Mueller’s investigation, Ukrainian law enforcement allowed a potential witness to possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to leave for Russia, putting him out of reach for questioning.
The special counsel’s office has identified the man, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, Mr. Manafort’s former office manager in Kiev, as tied to a Russian intelligence agency. Mr. Kilimnik was also under investigation in Ukraine over espionage, but no charges were filed before he left the country, sometime after June. During the 2016 campaign, Mr. Kilimnik met twice with Mr. Manafort. In December, a court filing in the United States said Mr. Kilimnik was “currently based in Russia.”
Trump may tweet rage “no collusion” and declaim it as often as a sufferer from Tourette’s Syndrome repeats profanity, but there is much ado about something going on with Ukraine and Trump and not surprisingly, Paul Manafort is smack dab in the middle of it.