UPDATE (12.53pm): Another shoe drops in what looks like a Payless store in the middle of a hurricane.
… ka-ching! As a result of Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the last US presidential election, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has surrendered to Federal authorities. The same goes for Manafort’s business associate Rick Gates. While this does not convict the campaign of collusion, there’s enough evidence to produce a grand jury indictment, so it gets serious now.
Apart from any further indictments (Mueller’s probably not through), it’ll be interesting to see how Trump reacts. He already has in a way, producing a string of Twitter posts yesterday in a cowardly attempt to deflect attention from his own campaign to Clinton and the Democrats. (And Trump’s supporters of course are echoing this cowardly deflection.) Speaking of evidence, this is evidence of Trump’s own simian mind, tossing clumps of social media shit out of the bars of his cage and onto anyone he perceives as a threat to his own legitimacy. Now that people are going to jail, though, that won’t wash for long. (And don’t forget to download this convenient scorecard so you can play at home.)
My own money was on Manafort, especially after listening to this Slate podcast recorded last week with Jacob Weisberg and historian Anne Applebaum, the author of the excellent Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine, her history of the Ukrainian holodomor in the 1930s, which I started reading this weekend. After briefly discussing the new book, Applebaum talks about Manafort’s connection to the Russian attempt to destabilize Ukraine, as well as the role of social media in the attempts to destabilize political discourse in Ukraine and the US (apparently, if you marry Twitter and Facebook to Soviet-style propaganda, you get quite an animal). Applebaum’s deep knowledge of Russian and Soviet political and cultural wrongdoing proved to be prescient; she first pointed the finger at Manafort in 2016, when Manafort was originally appointed Trump’s campaign manager. She wrote about his numerous ties to the Russians here, and you can listen to the podcast here.