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OPINION

And, So it Begins

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Once again, I was wrong.

After it became known that someone (or some people) would be indicted this morning, cell phone towers were melting down due to the traffic which can be generally summarized as "Who do you think it will be?"

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My guess was former White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and/or his son, Michael Flynn, Jr.

Turns out, as we all know now, it was Paul Manafort and his long-time Number Two, Rick Gates.

As the morning broke and it became clear that Manafort and Gates had been told to present themselves at the FBI's Washington Field Office assumedly precedent to going to the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse to be officially arraigned. It also became clear that the indictments were centered around what the government considers to be financial misdeeds including what might be money laundering and tax evasion plus failing to register as an American working for a foreign government (known as being a foreign agent) as Flynn and others apparently failed to do.

According to lawyers on the cable nets these indictments might have been first because the government was concerned about the statute of limitations clock running out on some of the issues.

That's what we know.

Here's what I think.

I think the Mueller investigation is laying down a primer coat which will lead to why - of all the former Republican convention managers available - Donald Trump's campaign fell in love with Paul Manafort.

The links might not lead to Donald J., but they could entangle Don, Jr., (maybe) Ivanka, and Jared Kushner. All of them have had some involvement with Russians trying to get money to help fund real estate projects.

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According to an article in Politico.com from earlier this month, Don, Jr. said at a business conference in 2008:

"We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia," he said of Trump Organization properties. "There's indeed a lot of money coming for new-builds and resale reflecting a trend in the Russian economy and, of course, the weak dollar versus the ruble."

Paul Manafort is a smart guy. A very smart guy. At one point Manafort and Roger Stone (among others) were business partners.

It is not unlikely that Don, Jr. and Manafort talked about common interests in Russia and Russians and those conversations and connections led to Manafort and Gates being brought into the campaign.

I have very good (and also very smart) political friends to take exactly the other view. They say that when you look at when Manafort (and Gates) were hired by Trump, it was after it was clear that Trump had enough delegates to win the nomination, but were worried about Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and others disrupting the proceedings to wrest the prize away from him.

Bring in Paul Manafort, a known quantity in both Russian business and American politics to sort the whole thing out.

Two birds. One Roger Stone.

As I was writing this, it was reported that George Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the Trump campaign and Russia.

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Who is Papadopoulos? According to the Washington Post, he was a foreign policy advisor to the campaign who attempted to set up at least one meeting between the campaign and Russians.

The post reports an email offering to set up "a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under President Trump," telling them his Russian contacts welcomed the opportunity."

Probably not, in and of itself, against the law. Lying to the FBI about it most assuredly is.

On the political front, the Special Prosecutor's office making public this guilty plea - which apparently occurred on October 5, 2017 - will take the wind out of the White House's sails when it claims the Manafort/Gates indictments have nothing to do with them.

I don't have any idea how this will all end, but mark this date on your calendar. 10/30/17 is the day it (whatever "it" is) began.

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