In the wake of accidental revelations that Paul Manafort passed Trump campaign polling data to an associate with ties to Russian intelligence, it’s worth revisiting the fact that of all the Trump associates targeted by special counsel Robert Mueller, Manafort is the only one who hasn’t flipped despite the overwhelming evidence against him.
Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California hit that point Tuesday on MSNBC. “Every person that Bob Mueller and his team have put the screws to have folded and cooperated,” Swalwell told Deadline‘s, Nicolle Wallace. “Manafort is the only one who has not and he has, I think, the most evidence against him which suggests to me that he is more fearful not of Bob Mueller, but he’s more fearful of what folding would mean for his Russian and Ukrainian connections.”
Former FBI Assistant Director Frank Figliuzzi agreed with Swalwell, noting that Manafort seems to be more afraid of “the organized crime guys, the former KGB, GRU, SVR guys, and the damage they can do to him and his family.” As Figliuzzi pointed out, Mueller has seized all of Manafort’s assets and yet he continues to lie and refuse to cooperate with the Russia investigation.
“The only explanation for that is, there’s worse that could happen to Manafort and he knows it,” Figliuzzi posited, “and it’s not worse from the U.S. government, it’s worse from the Russian side.”
More and more, one has to wonder if Manafort didn’t simply see an opportunity in Trump’s campaign, but rather was sent to Trump’s campaign by Russian interests. Not simply a cash-strapped grifter trying to capitalize, but a Russian asset from the very first.