The trial of Paul Manafort has been frequently in the news the past few weeks, and to listen to the mainstream media, it would appear that the trial is about Mr. Manafort's crimes on behalf of President Trump during his brief time with the Trump campaign in 2016. But as Hans von Spakovsky pointed out, the trial has nothing to do with President Trump, the Trump campaign, or alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election:
But when it comes to the mandate given to Mueller on May 17, 2017, we’ve learned absolutely nothing. Mueller was charged with investigating “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.”
But neither Gates nor any other witness at the Manafort trial has testified about the Russian election interference or any alleged collusion between the Trump campaign – or Trump himself – with the Russians. . . . All of the testimony at the Manafort trial has addressed events that occurred long before Manafort went to work for 2016 Trump campaign. The testimony has focused on Manafort’s and Gates’s activities as alleged “unregistered agents” representing the Ukrainian government starting in 2006.
It would be absurd to argue that Manafort’s other clients in the 12 years since then are somehow to blame for any criminal activity he may have engaged in – and prosecutors aren’t even trying to point the finger at President Trump for these activities.
As Mr. von Spakovsky describes, the only connection between President Trump and Mr. Manafort's alleged misdeeds is how President Trump's opponents will try to attack him through his brief association with Mr. Manafort:
If Manafort is found guilty of tax evasion and bank fraud, some will try to use his very brief association with the Trump campaign to tar the president. But such criticism would ignore two crucial facts.
First, presidential campaigns are not law enforcement agencies. They have neither the capacity nor the resources to do detailed background investigations on the thousands of individuals who volunteer to work with a campaign.
Second, Manafort appeared to be a successful, ethical businessman. Even the government – including the IRS, the FBI and our intelligence agencies – had no idea that he was allegedly engaging in any wrongdoing for a foreign government through an elaborate scheme of offshore bank accounts and shell companies, until Mueller’s office started investigating him.
While the trial of Mr. Manafort is rife with political overtones, it is important that he not only receives a fair trial but also that the coverage of any evidence presented and the eventual verdict is accurate and not used as a political weapon through distorting the subject matter of the trial.