News Release

Manafort Trial Begins

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s trial begins today. See accuracy.org/calendar for upcoming events.

AARON MATÉ, aaronmate at gmail.com, @aaronjmate
Maté is a host/producer for The Real News. He has written a series of pieces for The Nation questioning the prevailing orthodoxy on “Russiagate.”

In “The Mueller Indictments Still Don’t Add Up to Collusion,” he wrote: “There is widespread supposition that Manafort’s dealings in Ukraine make him a prime candidate for collusion with Moscow. But that stems from the mistaken belief that Manafort promoted Kremlin interests during his time in Kiev. The opposite appears to be the case. The New York Times recounts that Manafort ‘pressed [then-Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor] Yanukovych to sign an agreement with the European Union that would link the country closer to the West — and lobbied for the Americans to support Ukraine’s membership.’ If that picture is accurate, then Manafort’s activities in Ukraine during the period for which he has been indicted were diametrically opposed to the Kremlin’s agenda.”

In his most recent piece, “The Elite Fixation With Russiagate,” Maté lists a host of Trump policies at odds with Russian interests, and writes: “This consistent record of Trump directly contradicting Putin’s agenda is inconvenient to a collusion-and-kompromat hypothesis, so it is little wonder that it is overlooked. Instead of focusing on policy, the press has engaged in commentary more appropriate for an ice-skating performance. Blake Hounshell of Politico questions why Trump is ‘oddly submissive’ with ‘the diminutive Putin,’ with the American president ‘slumping in his chair’ next to the Russian leader. ‘The way Trump behaves around Putin — quietly bowing and scraping, taking his word over America’s own chief of intelligence,’ writes The Week’s Ryan Cooper, ‘is simply wildly out of character.’ Except that it’s not. Trump has been deferential to many authoritarian leaders — hardly out of character, by the way, for any American president. And if Benjamin Netanyahu is to be believed, Trump even let the Israeli prime minister convince him to nix the Iran nuclear deal.

“Amid fervent speculation that Trump may be a Kremlin asset, Israel’s brazen (and actually documented) foreign meddling barely registers, joining an innumerable number of critical issues that the Russiagate frenzy has sidelined. It has gotten so extreme that even Trump’s new threats of war on Iran, coupled with an escalating administration campaign to destabilize its government, has been ignored or even downplayed as an effort to distract us from his Russia woes.” Another of Maté’s pieces is “The Trump Team Definitely Colluded With a Foreign Power — Just Not the One You Think.”