Listen: Paul Manafort Trump, Paul Manafort And Muller discussed on Fresh Air
"This is fresh air. I'm Terry gross. Let's get back to my interview with Franklin for a national correspondent for the Atlantic. Who's been writing about the Muller investigation and connections between Trump his campaign and Russia enforced latest article, titled Russian style kleptocracy is infiltrating America. He writes about how wealth plundered by Russian oligarchs is being parked in real estate in American cities, including in Trump properties for his nominated for a national magazine award for his article about Paul Manafort, titled American hustler Manafort is Trump's former campaign chair who's associates have included Oliveira pasta. I Russian oligarch and Constantine Kalinic. Who according to the FBI has ties to a Russian intelligence agency Manafort has been convicted on eight counts related to his financial dealings, and he's pleaded guilty to witness tampering and conspiracy related to a lob. Being and money laundering scheme, and he agreed to cooperate with Muller one of the parallel investigations at the southern district of New York is no investigating is the flow of money to three powerful law and lobbying firms firms that Manafort had recruited seven years ago to help the image of the and kovic who was the Russian backed president of Ukraine, and you had written about this last year in your Manafort article, the one that's nominated for a national magazine award and these three firms are mercury public affairs, the pedestrian group and scadden Arp slate Meagher and Flom so why is this an important story that there was a flow of money to these firms that Manafort had recruited so one of the dangers of dealing with kleptocracy is that it. Re it lowers moral standards. And we're in this era where competition in the marketplace for law public affairs is seen as so cutthroat that you have these really prestigious firms real pillars of the establishment taking on clients working with people who they probably wouldn't have worked with twenty years ago thirty years ago, but it's just become the accepted, norm. And in the case of these clients, and the kiss something like scadden Arps, we can see that there's that their standards that have just that have slipped that there are there practices that they're engaged in where they ju- even from the little that we've seen from their internal correspondence it seems like they knew better than to make some of the arguments that they were making on behalf of manafort's Ukrainian clients yet. They they went ahead with. It. And so so you have the southern district investigating the ways in which this kleptocracy this involvement with kleptocrats resulted in violations of the foreign agent registration act the ways in which these companies may have subjected themselves to to complicity in money laundering. And I think it's actually a really important moment for for our collective public. Morality to have these companies be brought to task to have somebody like Greg Craig who was Barack Obama's White House counsel has had to resign from his law firm because of his involvement in the scandal. And I think it's it's it's actually quite important that you have somebody like that pay a real price. And I it we've seen reports from elsewhere in Washington. That that firms are much more sensitive to the foreign agent registration act that their clients who they would have tried to sneak through loopholes before and not registered. And now there's greater compliance with those laws, and so I'm not going to be naive, and and and call this a revolution. But the only way we can improve the culture of our institutions, the culture of Washington is to have these kinds of of firm enforcement actions taken do you think there's a chance that President Trump would actually pardon Manafort, and do you think that Manafort is thinking that's a possibility. Manafort seems to pretty clearly thinking that's a possibility. That's what Muller's team is asserting. Nakedly asserting there's no question that that's what they're alleging. He's been doing. And so can you you can't really rule anything out with with Trump. We've already seen the ways in which she's wielded the pardon as a political tool. So I think it's unlikely because. Of of the big it's unlikely because I think it would just spin him even deeper into this scandal, and it's not entirely clear the ways in which Manafort could potentially even implicate Trump if he did pardon him, it would be incredibly telling because it would mean that. There's something that he ecstasy essentially fears in with Manafort turning against him. If you're just joining us. My guest is Franklin for a national correspondent for the Atlantic. His latest piece is called Russian style. Kleptocracy is infiltrating America. He's written extensively about the mother investigation and about Paul Manafort Trump's former campaign chair and manafort's connections to Ukraine in Russia. We'll be back after a short break. This is fresh air. Support for NPR comes."