The Kiev Connection: Have the Democrats opened Pandora’s box with successful demand for investigation of foreign influence on the 2016 election?
Democrats may regret their years of hyperventilation over allegations of foreign "collusion" to influence a presidential election. In what amounts to slow-motion political jujitsu, the nefarious acts attributed to the Trump campaign may end up being applied to the Obama administration and Hillary campaign. A formal criminal investigation already is being launched overseas, making an American counterpart investigation awkward to suppress.
Anyone who has paid attention to the genesis of the Mueller investigation understands that it was opposition research paid for by the Democratic Party and Hillary presidential campaign and corrupt senior officials at the FBI that sparked the appointment of the special counsel. But new information developed by John Solomon of The Hill suggests that there was indeed an effort by a foreign government to influence the 2016 election, and that it was the government of Ukraine attempting to sway voters in Hillary's favor.
Ukraine Prosecutor General Yurii Lutsenko (Hill TV screen grab).
Ukraine's top prosecutor divulged in an interview aired Wednesday on Hill.TV that he has opened an investigation into whether his country's law enforcement apparatus intentionally leaked financial records during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign about then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in an effort to sway the election in favor of Hillary Clinton.
The leak of the so-called "black ledger" files to U.S. media prompted Manafort's resignation from the Trump campaign and gave rise to one of the key allegations in the Russia collusion probe that has dogged Trump for the last two and a half years.
Ukraine Prosecutor General Yurii Lutsenko's probe was prompted by a Ukrainian parliamentarian's release of a tape recording purporting to quote a top law enforcement official as saying his agency leaked the Manafort financial records to help Clinton's campaign.
The parliamentarian also secured a court ruling that the leak amounted to "an illegal intrusion into the American election campaign," Lutsenko told me. Lutsenko said the tape recording is a serious enough allegation to warrant opening a probe, and one of his concerns is that the Ukrainian law enforcement agency involved had frequent contact with the Obama administration's U.S. embassy in Kiev at the time.
"Today we will launch a criminal investigation about this and we will give legal assessment of this information," Lutsenko told me.
Solomon's article is long and detailed, and it includes disturbing information about the U.S. embassy in Kiev, which has, at a minimum, a lot of explaining to do.
But a second version of Pandora's box related to Ukraine is also open at this moment, thanks to the prosecution of Paul Manafort for failing to register as an agent of the Ukraine government under FARA, the Foreign Agent Registration Act. That rarely enforced law now may be turned against others in the Democrats' camp, who also lobbied for Ukraine, including Clinton White House counsel and Washington, D.C. power lawyer Greg Craig. Greg Re of Fox News reports:
Former Obama White House Counsel and Clinton-linked attorney Greg Craig may soon be charged by the Justice Department for engaging in illegal unregistered overseas lobbying, in a case initially probed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller — a development that would make him the first Democrat to face prosecution amid the long-running Russia investigation.
The case centers on lobbying work that Craig performed in 2012 for the Russian-backed president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, while Craig was a partner at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Craig allegedly never registered as a foreign agent under a U.S. law known as the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, which requires lobbyists to declare publicly if they represent foreign leaders, governments or their political parties.
FARA violations were only rarely prosecuted until Mueller took aim at Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, for his lobbying work in Ukraine[.]
Keep in mind that there are many other potential sources of evidence for turning the Democrats' efforts to rid themselves of President Trump by investigation against them. President Trump can de-classify and release the FISA warrants that appear to have concealed relevant facts from the Court — a criminal offense — and other information about the corruption at the FBI.
My assumption all along has been that as the most successful reality TV producer in the history of the medium, Donald Trump is managing the "story arc" for maximum effect on the 2020 electorate. Finally, at long last, we may be seeing the third act of this drama begin.