I will be (and have been!) the first one to go out and say that the arrest of and charges filed against Paul Manafort do not show that President Donald Trump did anything illegal, nor does it show that he was involved in any sort of alleged collusion between his campaign and the Russian government.
But I will be (and have been!) willing and able to call out Trump’s hiring of Manafort as ill-advised at best. Manafort had long-known business ties that were murky at best, and downright sinister in most eyes.
Apparently, the White House believes that this is a sufficient defense.
Source close to WH tells @saramurray “These guys were bad guys when they started, they were bad guys when they left,"not related to campaign
— Noah Gray (@NoahGrayCNN) October 30, 2017
You get what the White House is saying here? Is that the message Trump wants to send? “Sure, Manafort is a scumbag, but he was a scumbag before I hired him. President Trump has nothing to do with Scumbag Paulie and his scumbag ways.”
That’s… the only defense they really have. Trump was warned from every corner of the Republican Party and the conservative movement to drop Manafort like a bad habit, but he kept him on through the primaries. Whatever happens to Manafort is a reflection of Trump’s poor taste in people.
What’s more, Manafort is quite possibly the tip of the iceberg here. What other poor personnel decisions did Trump make and what does Robert Mueller have on them?
That is the problem Trump is facing, though he is definitely going to be loath to admit it.