Media Has Now Acknowledged Trump-Russia Collusion. When Will It Acknowledge Trump Privately Confessed to It in 2018?

The first of two shoes just dropped on America with a resounding bang. The second will come eventually, most say—but those who know the Trump-Russia case know it actually hit back in January 2018.

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This article will be one of the shorter ones in the history of Proof, as I’ve little interest in running more victory laps than I already have regarding the fact that the New York Times and every other major media outlet in the United States has now acknowledged that the Trump campaign colluded with Russian intelligence prior to the 2016 general election—and not via a tangential figure, either, but the top official in the campaign, campaign manager Paul Manafort. Trump-Russia collusion was (and remains) a stain upon our country, so while I’m pleased that, after four years of attacks by major media, those of us who researched and substantiated the fact of Trump-Russia collusion years ago are finally being publicly vindicated, there is still very little reason for celebration.

No, the reason for this article is quite different indeed—as those who have read the Proof trilogy of books (Proof of Collusion, Proof of Conspiracy, and Proof of Corruption) know that there’s little point in me rehashing what Playboy reported in its interview with me in March 2019 with respect to Proof of Collusion: “Not one error has been found in the book.” This website, and the Proof trilogy and podcast that inspired it, is well past the issue these fully sourced products first reported two and a half years ago: Manafort passed proprietary Trump campaign data to Russian intelligence; he did so knowingly; and he did so as part of a quid pro quo with his former Kremlin bosses (as Manafort was under contract with the Kremlin for many years prior to his appearance on Trump’s staff as an allegedly pro bono employee), which quid pro quo involved him getting loan forgiveness and other tangible benefits from persons he knew were in the midst of attacking American democracy.

That Manafort betrayed America was clear years ago. That Robert Mueller indicted Manafort as a means of getting Manafort to “flip” on someone higher up than him in the Trump campaign—the only person possibly fitting that description being Donald Trump—was clear years ago. That Manafort’s Kremlin contact in 2016, Konstantin Kilimnik, was working for Russian intelligence was known years ago, and was known to Manafort at the time. That Trump floated a pardon to Manafort through the “joint defense agreement” the two men secretly shared was known years ago. That Trump continued speaking to Manafort by phone for almost a year after he “fired” him from his campaign was known years ago. That Trump got on a speakerphone call between his attorneys and Manafort to tell Manafort to “stay strong” was also known years ago.

That Manafort kept quiet about his collusion with the Kremlin because Trump floated a pardon to him, entered a joint defense agreement with him, kept secretly utilizing him as a top political adviser for a year after his “firing,” defended him publicly, and directly told him to “stay strong”—all of this was clear years ago. Indeed, you will note that, though this is a curatorial-journalism website, I’m not even linking to these well-known facts, as they’re all contained within the three national-bestselling Proof books, the Special Counsel Report, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report.

If any of the above facts are facts you don’t already know, just read those documents.

The reason for this article is to remind Americans that in the event you had any doubt about why Trump took all the actions he took with respect to Paul Manafort—that is, in the event you thought Trump’s stance toward Manafort was the first exemplar of altruism, mercy, or magnanimity in the over seven decades of Trump’s life of graft and perfidy, you should know that we already got the real reason for Trump’s treatment of Manafort way back in January of 2018.

As noted in the Proof books, the Proof: A Pre-Election Special podcast, my Twitter feed, and, more importantly for our present purposes, NBC News in January of 2018—in an article entitled, “The ‘State of Donald Trump’? He Thinks It Couldn’t Be Better”

Donald Trump is telling friends and aides in private that things are going great—for him. Some reasons: He’s decided that a key witness in the Russia probe, Paul Manafort, isn’t going to “flip” and sell him out, friends and aides say. He believes Robert Mueller, who heads the investigation, can be crushed, if necessary, without being fired.

And there it is.

There’s the then-President of the United States, Donald Trump, telling—in “private”— the people closest to him in the world (his personal “friends” and his political “aides”) something that he would never say in public to the media or even in private to donors: that Manafort had the ability to “‘flip’ [on him] and sell him out [by cooperating with the Mueller investigation].” I will say, as a former criminal investigator and former criminal defense attorney who worked in state and federal jurisdictions for nearly ten years (and who worked with defendants, during that time, who considered flipping or did flip on co-defendants), this is something a defendant only says when and if they know another person caught up in the criminal justice system has the goods on them.

{Note: I would add, further, that the terminology used here by Howard Fineman of NBC News is unmistakable. Trump doesn’t say he is afraid a federal defendant will lie about him, he says he is afraid he will be “sold out” by that defendant. This phrase has a specific meaning that is impossible to duplicate.}

To put it more plainly: either Donald Trump knew that Paul Manafort was colluding with the Kremlin in 2016, or Paul Manafort knew something about Donald Trump’s activities that was somehow even worse than Manafort betraying his country. The fanciful notion that some who’ve never worked in the criminal justice system have—that Trump might have feared Manafort would concoct a lie about him and therefore was only a danger to him if he lied to Mueller—is absolutely preposterous. Here’s why:

(1) It’s not how flipping works. Trump and his lawyers knew it then and know it now. The FBI doesn’t cut a deal with someone, and shave years or decades off a near-certain federal prison sentence, just because someone has told them a pretty story. If you want to flip on someone, you must substantiate it with evidence and corroboration.

The DOJ can’t win a trial against a sitting or former President of the United States on one man’s word alone—and it knows that. And Manafort knows that. The FBI knows that. Trump knows that. Trump’s lawyers know that. If Trump did nothing wrong, he had nothing to fear from Manafort, as Manafort had nothing to offer the FBI and DOJ.

(2) The FBI already had Manafort’s deputy Rick Gates. Manafort and Gates were good friends, and in regular communication, so if Trump apprehended a plot against him by Manafort he would’ve equally been terrified of Gates—who was also under indictment and would later cut a deal. But Trump wasn’t worried about Gates. Not even after Gates flipped. No, only Manafort scared Trump. Manafort had done, seen, or knew something that was uniquely threatening to Trump. And now the New York Times and everyone else is confirming that it was Manafort, not Gates or anyone else, who uniquely knew that information of real, abiding value to the Russian election interference operation was flowing from the top of the 2016 Trump campaign to Russian intelligence agents. Gates may have passed on some of that information, but as my books and podcast and Twitter feed and the 12,000 major-media sources across all of these Trump-Russia documents have confirmed, Manafort also had many private exchanges and meetings with at least one known Russian intelligence agent.

(3) Trump had no such fear as to Michael Cohen. If Trump had had a generalized fear of former associates making up big lies about him, he would’ve been truly terrified of Michael Cohen, his friend and fixer and attorney for nearly twenty years—and a man who flipped on Trump due to the indictments he himself was facing and the fact that Cohen and Trump were prospective co-defendants (with Trump a still unindicted co-conspirator) in an SDNY case. But Trump had no fear of Cohen, belittling him and throwing him under the bus with seeming bravado. There were no reports, from NBC or anyone else, that Trump was worried about Cohen either telling the truth about him or telling lies about him. Note that this wasn’t because Cohen didn’t have the goods on certain Trump crimes; he did. Rather, it was that Trump was (and is) so reckless in his criminality that only a former associate with knowledge of massive, still-unreported crimes could put any fear into him. Manafort—a man we now know was at the center of Trump-Russia collusion—was put in that category by Trump. But no one else was.

(4) These were “paper” FBI cases. As noted above, Manafort was ultimately indicted on federal charges. Those charges involved his past political consulting work, and thus a very large volume of digital and paper records: emails, texts, ledgers, phone logs, and more. Whereas Cohen conducted all his business with the Kremlin on Trump’s behalf by telephone, with only a small volume of email communication, Manafort’s exchanges with Kremlin agents had taken place over a much longer period of time, and involved efforts to settle up accounts with his former (possibly current) Kremlin bosses. While Trump wouldn’t have been concerned about Manafort spinning a story to the FBI that he couldn’t corroborate—especially as Trump had no fear that Gates had sufficient information to be that corroboration for Manafort—Trump might well have been concerned that the same sort of communications and budgeting records that sank Manafort in his federal criminal cases also existed regarding as to whatever Manafort dealings with the Kremlin Trump believed Manafort could substantiate for the FBI or DOJ if he flipped.

(5) The “Steele Dossier.” No single event in the entirety of the Trump-Russia timeline got to Trump more than the Steele Dossier. His firing of then-FBI director James Comey after a series of wildly inappropriate (and indeed criminally obstructive) chats about the Dossier are what led to the Mueller investigation in the first place. Comey reports that Trump was singularly focused on disproving the Steele Dossier, even as he contended it was preposterous and that no one could possibly believe a word of it. Just so, Trump’s allies spent more time attacking Steele’s dossier than any other piece of Trump-Russia evidence—and there was a mountain of it—combined. Why? Some will say Trump and his allies saw the dossier as a weak spot in the case against Trump, and certainly it had weaknesses built into it: as a “raw” and “unprocessed” intelligence product whose author freely conceded that (like any such document) approximately a third of it would likely turn out to be erroneous, it was easy for Trump and his crew to exploit the nation’s ignorance of how raw and unprocessed intelligence works to make the entirety of the document seem unreliable. But wouldn’t an easier course of conduct been to just tell America the truth? That the dossier was raw, unprocessed intelligence certain to be filled with inaccuracies? Why treat it as an existential threat to the Trump presidency? Here’s what the Steele Dossier says about Paul Manafort, the man Trump was terrified could bring him down if he flipped and cooperated with the FBI and DOJ (emphasis supplied):

Speaking in confidence to a compatriot in late July 2016 [as Paul Manafort was meeting regularly with active Russian intelligence agent Konstantin Kilimnik], Source E, an ethnic Russian close associate of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, admitted that there was a well-developed conspiracy of cooperation between them [the 2016 Trump campaign, run by Paul Manafort] and the Russian leadership [in the Kremlin]. This was managed on the Trump side by the Republican candidate’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort

And that’s just what happened in 2016—as the U.S. government has now confirmed.

Conclusion

There is no reading of the January 2018 NBC News report I’ve been jumping up and down about for more than three years now that doesn’t position it as a confession, by Donald Trump, that Paul Manafort had information that could incriminate him.

While it’s possible that that information is something even worse than the historic treachery committed by Manafort that’s now universally accepted as fact in major media—years after it was reported by this author and many other authors, and with ample sourcing—we needn’t fantasize about some secret Trump killing spree or preposterous cloak-and-dagger operations constituting actual statutory Treason. There is no reason to suspect that Trump was afraid of Manafort for any reason beyond the already historically harrowing one we now know: Manafort colluded with the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election, and either Donald Trump aided it, Donald Trump knew about it and covered it up so he could profit from it, or Donald Trump directed it. Trump’s defenders—and now major media—have simply run out of other options or other means to defend the forty-fifth President of the United States.

The only question, now, is when this second shoe will formally and spectacularly drop, with U.S. major media unambiguously confirming that Trump is indeed the most vile traitor to this country in the history of U.S. politics. Let us hope that it happens soon—before Trump announces plans for run for President of the United States in 2024.