Donald Trump, never one to bow to pressure, and, in fact, more likely to do something if you tell him he can’t, followed through on a promise to give out a slate of pardons as his presidency appears to be coming to a close. Part of the motivation for that was to further discredit the Mueller investigation, a politically charged witch hunt that targeted figures simply for being too close to Trump.
One of those targeted who otherwise wouldn’t have been is Paul Manafort. There’s no debate that the DOJ had looked into the charges against Manafort years previously and decided not to press forward. But Mueller, eager to appear as if he were doing something worthy of the tens of millions he was spending, was more than happy to take credit for someone else’s work and rehash old battles.
Now, to the extent that one might think Manafort didn’t deserve a pardon just because of the political nature of his prosecution, that’s a position that’s perfectly reasonable. I personally could not have cared less one way or the other. Manafort pretty clearly had some very shady dealings. Yet, I lost not an iota of sleep over his pardoning because it was obvious why it happened. It’s also worth noting that Tony Podesta, a Clinton operative, was doing much the same thing as Manafort at the time and Mueller chose not to target him at all. Again, it was the political nature of the prosecution that brought about the pardon.
Of course, the reality of the situation didn’t stop some from getting immensely triggered. Here’s the expected Never Trump freak out from Tim Miller (with a h/t to Varad Mehta for pointing this out).
"These actions were nothing short of treasonous.
So is this pardon."
LOL at this hysterical caterwauling. But given the byline, I'd expect nothing less. https://t.co/0yLamrjYfa
— Varad Mehta (@varadmehta) December 25, 2020
Part of that work was providing access to the top levels of the Trump campaign, which the Russian government was covertly assisting across many vectors.
Manafort lied and concealed this collusion with Russian operatives at every possible opportunity in order to protect his own ass and to protect Donald Trump.
These actions were nothing short of treasonous.
So is this pardon.
It is the apotheosis of Donald Trump’s betrayal of his oath to our nation.
You can almost see this guy screaming into his pillow after taking another long drag from his menthol.
Let’s start by noting that this description of Manafort as colluding with the Russians is nonsense. What Manafort did was share a single piece of internal polling data, not government information, with a decades-long associate who also happened to be Russian. And even if we assume that information was passed on somehow (not a substantiated fact), it was logically of no use whatsoever to any attempt to interfere in the election. If you are going to collude, you’d at least do something worthy of colluding over, right? Polls of the 2016 election were hardly a hidden secret at the time.
Besides, that had nothing at all to do with Manafort’s eventual conviction, which relied on actions taken years before the 2016 election or before any relationship between Manafort and Donald Trump. That didn’t stop the fever dreams of Russian collusion from dominating, and apparently, some are still stupid enough to still push such idiocy. Nothing Manafort did was “treason,” a word that has an actual definition. But this is another example of how Trump so thoroughly breaks his opponents. All measure is lost as they raise their fists to the sky and shout obscenities in the form of badly researched op-eds.
I’m gonna miss it.
(Please follow me on Twitter! @bonchieredstate)