The possibility of three UK nationals being indicted as part of the Trump-Russia investigation, as I discussed yesterday, may come so close to former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage that he ends up getting nicked. But how he might be linked to all the others being charged by special counsel Rober Mueller was not immediately clear. It is now, and the key man is Paul Manafort.
Squeaky illegal bung finger up the bum time
As the BBC has reported, “Ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly paid unnamed former senior European politicians to lobby for Ukraine's previous pro-Russia government, a new indictment filed by special counsel Robert Mueller says … Mr Manafort paid over €2m ($2.5m; £1.8m) to the ex-politicians, including a former European chancellor, it says”. So what were these alleged bungs for?
“His alleged payments to former senior European politicians were made in 2012 and 2013, the new indictment says … The alleged paid lobbying was part of Mr Manafort's work for the Ukrainian government, a pro-Russian party, the Party of Regions, and its leader Viktor Yanukovych, who was president between 2010 and 2014, the indictment says … Mr Manafort's work for Ukrainian pro-Russian political parties is said to have continued after Mr Yanukovych was overthrown and fled to Russia in 2014”.
But where does Farage fit in? James Lamond had a clue: “Rick Gates admitted to lying about a meeting between Manafort & a U.S. congressman. Turns out Dana Rohrabacher, had a meeting with Manafort scheduled for that day”. Rohrabacher, otherwise known as “Putin’s favourite Congressman”, is a pal of Nigel Farage.
Indeed, the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr caught Rohrabacher posting a photo of himself and Mr Thirsty on a fishing trip together. The image has since been deleted - but not by Ms Cadwalladr. Nor has all the characteristically loud and persistent pro-Russia lobbying by Farage - after the alleged Manafort payments were made.
In 2014, as the Guardian reported, “Nigel Farage intensified his attack on the EU's ‘vanity’ foreign policy on Thursday as he accused Brussels of poking the ‘Russian bear with a stick’ over Ukraine”. He also claimed the EU “has encouraged brave young men and women in western Ukraine to rebel to the point of toppling a legitimate president”.
Later, Farage, who resents anything he sees as interference from outside in UK affairs, went to the Netherlands to, er, interfere in their affairs and urge a no vote in their Ukraine referendum. And the Telegraph put it thus: “The West must stop opposing Vladimir Putin’s incursion into Ukraine and join forces with the Russian leader in the fight against Islamic extremists, Nigel Farage has said”. All since Manafort made his alleged bungs.
And the last link in the chain will be the one that clinches it - so we need to know one thing. Was Nigel Farage a recipient of the alleged Manafort largesse? Because if he is, he’s toast. He had all the connections, made all the right noises at the right times, and rocked up in all the right places. He’s got some of those questions to answer.
Of course, someone close to Mueller may already have answered them.