This hasn’t been a very good week for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. He’s facing indictment by a federal grand jury, under investigation by multiple Congressional committees, and could also be looking at decades in prison if found guilty of the charges which could be lodged against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
So, naturally, Manafort thinks it’s a great time to leave the country and head for the Middle East.
The New York Times revealed Wednesday evening that Manafort is working for groups allied with the Kurdish minority in Iraq to promote a referendum for an independent Kurdish nation. The United States is opposed to such a move, fearing it will lead to the disintegration of Iraq and widespread conflict in the region.
Will the State Department grant Manafort the visa he needs to travel to Iraq and work on behalf of the Kurdistan referendum? That remains unclear, but should an indictment be handed down in the next day or two, it seems unlikely that Manafort would be allowed to leave the country, and a federal judge could easily rule that Manafort remain in the United States and surrender his passport.
Manafort has long been considered one of the keys to the Russia investigation because he has extensive ties to Russia and Russian business interests. Prior to joining the Trump campaign, Manafort was earning a $10 million a year salary paid to him by a Russian oligarch and aluminum tycoon, Oleg Deripaska, who also happens to be a close personal friend of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Additionally, Manafort is also personally in the crosshairs of the Mueller investigation. As Vox reported earlier today:
“Another reason Manafort may be a major focus of the investigation now is that he appears to be in legal jeopardy on a whole other set of matters that actually took place before the Trump campaign even began — meaning Mueller could potentially have powerful leverage to get Manafort to cooperate.
Manafort didn’t register as a foreign agent for his work for the Party of Regions until earlier this year, raising questions about whether he deliberately violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.”
If anyone has a reason to turn on Trump and tell everything he knows, it’s Paul Manafort. Otherwise, the rest of his life could be spent behind prison bars.
This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org