The FBI is going to be looking into Donald Trump’s former campaign manager’s foreign business connections, particularly his ties to Russia.
According to law enforcement and intelligence sources, although not a full blown investigation, the FBI will be conducting a preliminary inquiry into Paul Manafort’s Russian business connections. The FBI has not commented, but Manafort has denied all allegations and said “none of it is true … There’s no investigation going on by the FBI that I’m aware of.”
Manafort denied that he has any ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he has not been a part of any business dealings with the Russian government. He also insisted that any suggestion that he does have Russian connections is nothing more than “Democratic propaganda.”
“This is all political propaganda, meant to deflect,” Manafort said.
In August, it was revealed that Manafort “was a key player in multi-million-dollar business propositions with Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs — one of them a close Putin ally with alleged ties to organized crime — which foreign policy experts said raised questions about the pro-Russian bent of the Trump candidacy.”
Just a few days later, Manafort announced that he was no longer part of Trump’s campaign. The New York Times reports that Manafort was paid $12.7 million in cash for representing a pro-Russian politician in the Ukraine.
The news comes just days after FBI Director James Comey announced that the agency would be looking into more emails connected to Hillary Clinton. This move, which came just 11 days before the election, has drawn criticism. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid slammed Comey and claimed he has “explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government.”
According to Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, voters should be both aware and concerned.
Americans have every right to be concerned about what they see in terms of Trump advisors and their closeness with the Kremlin, Trump’s policies vis-a-vis Russia, Trump’s potential financial interest, all of those things ought to be of deep concern to voters.
Whether an investigation is appropriate depends on whether there’s evidence of criminal connections. Of course the intelligence community wants to know what foreign influence Russia may be looking to exert in the United States.
Trump has carried on a bromance with Putin throughout the election season and has taken very pro-Russian stances on the campaign trail.
David Kramer, who is a former senior State Department official in the George W. Bush administration as well as a former adviser to Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign, said Trump’s love of Russia and praise of Putin is “deeply disturbing.”
“The relationships that Trump’s advisors have had with pro-Russian forces are deeply disturbing. Trump’s attitude on Russia is not in line with most Republican foreign-policy thinking. Trump has staked out views that are really on the fringe.”
Not surprisingly, people are pointing out the obvious bias and double standard when it comes to what Comey decided to make public and what he is happy to sweep under the rug.
“Any specifics of what the FBI or intelligence agencies may be looking at are not something that the bureau should be discussing publicly,” Schiff said. “But here, where the director has discussed an investigation involving one candidate, it opens the director up to claims of bias if he doesn’t discuss other potential investigations.”
Watch more on the inquiry into Manafort’s Russian ties, here:
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