It’s easy to forget in the midst of this clown show of an administration that this Russia scandal can be traced all the way back to Trump’s first campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Manafort, you will recall, stepped down as Trump’s campaign manager after ethical questions arose about his business connections to Russian-linked associates in the Ukraine.
Now, according to a Politico report, Manaforts’ connections to Russia are coming more to light because of hacked cell phone messages from members of his immediate family:
The texts, posted on a darknet website run by a hacktivist collective, appear to show Manafort’s family fretting about the ethics, safety and consequences of his work for Yanukovych. And they reveal that Manafort’s two daughters regarded their father’s emergence as a key player on Trump’s presidential campaign with a mixture of pride and embarrassment.
In one exchange, daughter Jessica Manafort writes “Im not a trump supporter but i am still proud of dad tho. He is the best at what he does.” Her sister Andrea Manafort responded by referring to their father’s relationship with Trump as “The most dangerous friendship in America,” while in another exchange she called them “a perfect pair” of “power-hungry egomaniacs,” and asserted “the only reason my dad is doing this campaign is for sport. He likes the challenge. It’s like an egomaniac’s chess game. There’s no money motivation.”
By contrast, the Manafort daughters and their mother seemed much more unsettled about Paul Manafort’s work as a political consultant for Yanukovych’s Russia-backed Party of Regions, which is a subject of renewed interest among investigators probing possible links between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
In one March 2015 exchange that appears to be between the two sisters, Andrea Manafort seems to suggest that their father bore some responsibility for the deaths of protesters at the hands of police loyal to Yanukovych during a monthslong uprising that started in late 2013.
“Don’t fool yourself,” Andrea Manafort wrote. “That money we have is blood money.”
In another hacked exchange a few months later with someone else, Andrea Manafort wrote that her father’s “work and payment in Ukraine is legally questionable.”
It was further reported that Manafort “confirmed that he’d received messages that may have come from an anti-corruption Ukrainian lawmaker threatening to expose Manafort’s alleged financial ties to Yanukovich.”
“Manafort said the messages began arriving shortly before the New York Times reported that the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine had obtained documents allegedly showing $12.7 million in cash payments intended for him.”
So it appears that Manafort was mildly successful in helping Donald Trump pull one over on the American people, but couldn’t pull one over on his own daughters.