Last Friday, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort entered into a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team over unregistered lobbying for a foreign government between six and nine years ago when he worked on behalf of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. He now faces the possibility of dying in prison, depending on how the sentencing judge considers his cooperation with investigators. Meanwhile, two major Democrat operatives who worked with Manafort on the lobbying campaign, Tony Podesta and Gregory Craig, are unindicted and walking free.
Manafort’s practical crime has nothing to do with foreign lobbying. In the eyes of politicized government agents, Manafort’s real transgression is working for Donald Trump. How else to explain the double standard? Podesta and Craig, the brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman and former White House counsel under Barack Obama, respectively, committed the same crime at the same time with the same people as Manafort. All failed to register their activities with the government, as required by the Foreign Agent Registration Act. And yet thirteen months after federal agents raided Manafort’s house in the wee small hours of the morning, Podesta and Craig continue to enjoy life unmolested. The mainstream media report that prosecutors “are considering taking action” against the Democrat operatives, but to date no charges have materialized.
For months President Trump has referred to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference as a “rigged witch hunt,” and Mueller seems determined to prove him right. Former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos will serve fourteen days in prison — mirabile dictu, our streets are finally safe — for lying to the FBI, a procedural crime that would not have been committed if not for the investigation itself. Former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn will face sentencing for the same crime in the coming months. And Manafort faces practical life imprisonment, for crimes committed years ago alongside powerful Democrats who have thus far gotten off scot-free.
All of these political shenanigans raise serious questions: Why is a probe into the 2016 election focusing on lobbying work for a Ukrainian politician six years earlier? Why has the investigation employed so many of President Trump’s political opponents, including one ex-FBI official who privately vowed to “stop” Trump from becoming president? Why has this ostensibly non-partisan investigation implicated Democrats but thus far only targeted Republicans? One question presents itself most urgently: how much longer will Republicans permit this political charade to persist?