In Trump’s Murky Shadows



Paul Manafort, the Republican candidate’s main advisor, heads one of the most powerful political management companies in the country and probably the most cynical, as columnist Alain Campiotti reminds us.

For the first time, Donald Trump was using a teleprompter. He was talking about the world. With such a vast topic, he had to save himself from embarrassment. So, the de facto Republican candidate read a text that had been prepared for him. “America First” — the U.S. first, and only the U.S. The tall blond probably didn’t know where the catchphrase came from: It was from the isolationist, anti-Jewish and xenophobic campaign of Charles Lindbergh, the Nazis’ friend, at the end of the ’30s.

The Tormentors’ Lobby

Trump the verbose, now that November is in sight, is being handled. Behind him, he has “operatives”* – the French language has no better word – who know how to seize power and how to use it. Their chief, Paul Manafort, one of the candidate’s old friends, leads one of the country’s most powerful political management (or manipulation) firms, and probably the most outrageously cynical. One U.S. NGO has thus labeled its international clients: the tormentors’ lobby.

It is quite certain that Donald Trump is not a puppet hanging on strings. But it is worth taking a ride (with stops in Switzerland) with Manafort & Co.’s clients to see what the Republican is carrying in his luggage.

It’s a long story. It could start with Ferdinand Marcos, advised by the firm and protected by the U.S. until the day in 1986 when Ronald Reagan decided to abandon this too cumbersome ally. Manafort who had also worked on Reagan’s election, had the good sense to break up his Filipino contract a few hours before the U.S.’s turnaround. But Marcos had enough time to squirrel away the product of his embezzlement in Switzerland.

Mobutu Was Also a Client of Paul Manafort

At the same time, Paul Manafort advised Siad Barre, who in 1991 abandoned Somalia in a terrible state, the consequences of which are still felt to this day. Mobutu Sese Seko, who had firmly planted his clutches in the very rich Zaire, now Congo, was also a client of the American: The kleptocrat left a very long trail; recent proof of this is the fact that his Savigny manor, near Lausanne, has just gone on the market. Sani Abacha, the Nigerian, who was up there with Mobutu, was also a client of the company: Upon his downfall, in 1998, Swiss banks didn’t know where to conceal the millions he had diverted.

Jonas Savimbi was also a surprising client. The Angolan, who studied in Lausanne, was under the protection of both the local left and of a radical university professor. When his country gained independence, it became a Cold War fighting stage and Savimbi, the Marxist under Chinese influence, was persuaded by Paul Manafort and other U.S. operatives that it would be more profitable for him to change sides. In order to fight a cruel and merciless war against the Angolan government, then propped up by the USSR and Cuba, he then received a lot of armament and money. When Mikhail Gorbachev decided to end this absurd civil war, Manafort was among those who advocated for the pursuit of hostilities and Savimbi continued to receive weapons.

The Name of the American Appeared in the Investigation about the Financing of Edouard Balladur’s Campaign

The name of the American also features in more familiar, but just as foul-smelling files. For example, in the investigation into the financing of Edouard Balladur’s campaign for the presidential election in 1995. Note: The Gaullist figure is under suspicion of having financed his campaign with money coming from the sale of French submarines to Pakistan.

The Geneva justice system recently became acquainted with this briefing as hidden commissions went through intermediaries who were Swiss residents. And part of the funds were paid to Paul Manafort. For advice given to Balladur? Maybe. But there is also a deeper layer. Manafort was also the Kashmiri American Council’s lobbyist in Washington, which tried to influence the U.S. position in the conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Everyone in the U.S. capital knew that the Council was just a cover for ISI, Pakistan’s powerful intelligence service. And ISI cannot have been in the dark about any transaction involving submarines and France.

Paul Manafort’s Close Ties with the Ousted Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych

Closer yet, and more current: Ukraine. Paul Manafort became, more than ten years ago, the very active counselor of Viktor Yanukovych, the president who was ousted from Kiev by the Maidan revolution in 2014, and is today a refugee in Russia. The American’s way into Ukraine was through a bunch of oligarchs — Rinat Akhmetov, Dmytro Firtash, and the Russian Oleg Deripaska — who all, at one time or another, supported Yanukovych. Manafort started to pamper the displaced president after his defeat in 2004, faced with the waves of the Orange revolution. He helped him back on his feet to win legislative elections and, two years later, the presidential election. This constant presence of a powerful U.S. political machine next to a Moscow protégé renders the accusation, repeated over and over by Putin and his friends, that Maidan was a Western ploy slightly laughable. And perhaps Paul Manafort is a factor in the friendly admiration that Donald Trump has for the Russian president.

*Translator’s note: In English in original text.

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