Washington attracts a certain type of person who loves attention—the thrill of the crowd, the glow of the camera. But it also attracts the kind of person who loves to operate in the shadows: the master of arcane rules, the backroom operator. When the second category of person ends up with the attention, things can get uncomfortable.
Take Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman whose ties to the Kremlin have come under new scrutiny as the Trump administration’s own ties do the same. Last week, the AP reported on alleged work Manafort did to burnish Vladimir Putin’s image abroad. As my colleague Julia Ioffe wrote, such work may appear distasteful to some, but it’s more often than not totally legal.
But now that Manafort is under the microscope, several reports are pointing to actions that might be more questionable. The first comes from WNYC, the New York public-radio station, which reported on three cases unearthed by 377union.com in which Manafort purchased properties in the city with no mortgages:
Manafort’s New York City transactions follow a pattern: Using shell companies, he purchased the homes in all-cash deals, then transferred the properties into his own name for no money and then took out hefty mortgages against them, according to property records.
The purchases came around the time Manafort signed a contract with Kremlin-aligned Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, which AP-acquired documents say involved lobbying to help Russia but Manafort says was merely on Deripaska’s behalf.