Paul Manafort admits indirectly advising Trump in 2020 but keeping it secret pending pardon | Books

Paul Manafort indirectly advised Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign while he was under house arrest as part of a seven-year sentence for offenses including tax evasion – advice he kept secret while he hoped for a presidential pardon.

“I didn’t want anything to stand in the way of the president’s re-election or, more importantly, a potential pardon,” Trump’s campaign manager wrote in 2016 in his new book.

In May 2020, as Covid-19 ravaged the prison system, Manafort was returned to house arrest. He stayed in an apartment in northern Virginia. From there, he reestablished contact with Trumpworld.

“There was no contact with anyone in Trump’s orbit when I was in prison,” he wrote. “And I didn’t want it, especially if it could be exploited by MSM [Mainstream Media, a derogatory term in rightwing circles].

“But when the re-election campaign started, I was interacting, off the record, with friends of mine who were very involved. It was killing me not to be there, but I was advising indirectly from my apartment.

The startling admission is set out in Political Prisoner: Persecuted, Prosecuted, but Not Silenced, a memoir to be published in the United States next month. The Guardian obtained a copy.

Throughout the book, Manafort, 73, strenuously denies collusion with Russia and ridicules investigations by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Congress and the US intelligence community.

But in Virginia in August 2018, in a case stemming from Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference and Trump-Moscow ties, Manafort was found guilty of eight counts: five of tax evasion, two of bank fraud and a non-declaration of a foreigner. Bank account.

In March 2019, he was sentenced to 43 months in prison. Later that month, in Washington DC, Manafort was sentenced to an additional three and a half years, after pleading guilty to conspiracy, including money laundering and unregistered lobbying and one count of accusation related to witness tampering.

Manafort was also convicted of breaching an agreement with Mueller, by lying.

In his memoir, Manafort describes his travels through the American prison system – including a stay in a Manhattan facility alongside financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

In another startling passage, Manafort writes that while transferring between facilities, at a private airfield “somewhere in Ohio,” the sight of “prisoners… being herded into long lines and then separated into d ‘other buses and on…transport planes…reminded me of Holocaust movies’.

Manafort led Trump’s campaign between May and August 2016, when he resigned shortly after Steve Bannon took over as campaign chairman and amid a scandal over alleged evidence of payments related to consultancy work in Ukraine.

In his book, Manafort denies wrongdoing related to the so-called “black book”, but writes, “My resignation only diverted attention from the Russian collusion story for a short time.”

Describing his informal advice to the Trump campaign in 2020, after four years of scandal, trial and imprisonment, he writes: “I had no prohibition against it, but I didn’t want it to become a problem.

He continues: “I still had no promise of grace, but I had an expectation. My fear was that if I got in the way of the campaign and Trump lost, he might blame me, and I didn’t want that to happen.

Trump lost to Joe Biden – a result Manafort, whose political career began as an adviser to President Gerald Ford, credits Biden’s campaign with a better understanding of Trump’s limitations than Hillary Clinton.

But he also flirts with Trump’s lie that voter fraud was the cause of his defeat, writing: “I believed there were irregular patterns. The results in battleground states were close enough that fraud could mean the difference between winning and losing.

After Trump’s defeat, Manafort writes, he refrained from “making phone calls the next day to start working for a pardon” and instead waited for Trump.

Manafort says the news he would be pardoned came through an intermediary, “a very good doctor friend, Ron, who is also close to Donald and Melania” and “has always been one of the judges” at Miss Universe pageants. when Trump led them.

The friend spoke to Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to Trump, who relayed the good news. Manafort was pardoned on December 23, 2020 – two weeks before the culmination of Trump’s bid to nullify the election, the deadly attack on the US Capitol, an event Manafort does not address.

“It was like a switch had been flipped,” Manafort writes, after telling his wife, Kathy, that he had been pardoned.

“We hugged and cried. I was free.

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