Paul Manafort, who served for approximately five months in 2016 as President Trump’s campaign manager, turned himself over to the FBI Monday after being indicted on 12 counts, including “conspiracy against the United States.”
As is always the case with scandals of this magnitude, expect the usual suspects in political and media circles to spin away to make sure they end up on the right side of this story.
But before that happens, it’s worth recalling which members of the so-called swamp hailed the Manafort hire last year. Now that the former Trump chief and longtime Republican insider is persona non grata, expect these self-styled insiders to pretend like they knew all along that Manafort's bagge was toxic. Expect them to pretend they never hailed the hire as a stroke of political genius. Expect them to say Manafort's impact on the Trump campaign was minimal.
Newt Gingrich, for example, will likely continue to play the role of faithful Trump foot soldier, and will probably downplay or dismiss when he said in August 2016 that, “Nobody should underestimate how much Paul Manafort did to really help get this [Trump] campaign to where it is right now."
Disgraced journalist Mark Halperin, should he resurface anytime soon, will also probably downplay the time he claimed it was very smart and very clever that Trump brought on Manafort.
"[T]here's now a chance for the campaign to both … turn the page on the narrative of things and say yes, we understand things are not going the right way" Halperin said in June 2016. "And for those associated with Paul Manafort to make the kind of changes and the kind of hiring decisions that they wanted to make."
He cheered the hire, saying it would help Trump to become a more “mainstream candidate” and that it would help him run a “more traditional” campaign.
"You still need a consistent message and message discipline," Halperin added. "And part of the challenge of managing Donald Trump is he goes out on the campaign trail, rarely did Paul Manafort travel with him, where he doesn't really carry a cell phone that he uses regularly, doesn't have email, and says whatever he wants."
Then-Washington Post blogger Chris Cillizza may likewise look with regret on the following paragraph from last year:
Donald Trump is not a dumb man. He didn't get to where he is — in this presidential race and in life generally -- by not grasping when things are slipping away from him and making the necessary changes to correct the problem. That's exactly what Trump did Thursday afternoon when he announced that Paul Manafort, an old political hand not previously affiliated with the real estate mogul's campaign, would serve as "convention manager" …
Then there are the lobbyists, former lawmakers, and other influence peddlers. They were quite pleased last year when Manafort, who plead "not guilty" Monday afternoon to the charges brought against him, agreed to take control of the Trump campaign.
GOP strategist Scott Reed, for example, boasted to the Washington Post in 2016 that Manafort would, “be a major influence on Trump.”
“They’re close in age, so Trump doesn’t look to him like he’s some kid. He brings a level of professionalism to the Trump operation at an important time because they have to pivot from being this band of merry campaigners that fly around to actually grinding out a convention where every delegate matters,” he said.
GOP strategist and former Manafort business partner Charlie Black said likewise that, "he has taken on a tough task, but certainly it’s a good decision for Trump.”
Lobbyist Vin Weber also said in reference to the Trump announcement last year that, “This is one of the most impressive things I’ve seen the Trump organization do. Maybe the only impressive thing.”
“Paul has been involved in internal Republican politics for almost all of his adult life,” added Weber, who is also a friend of Manafort. “He’s one of the true first-rate professionals in the Republican Party. There’s only a handful of people, I really mean that that can honestly say they know how a national convention works. He’s one of them.”
Nicholas Panuzio, who the Hartford Courant describes as “the former Republican mayor of Bridgeport who served at the same time that Manafort's father was the Republican mayor in New Britain,” also hailed the Trump campaign announcement last year.
"Paul is a strategic planning person, and he's been given charge by Trump to do the strategic planning," said Panuzio, whose failed gubernatorial campaign in 1972 employed Paul Manafort. "Donald Trump, for whatever warts he may have, hires top-flight people. And Donald Trump delegates authority."
Lobbyist Patrick Sullivan said basically the same thing.
"Manafort's the right guy for this," he said. "He's got the rare blend of strategic sense and detail. Trump is a very, very strong personality. In order to deal with a person like Trump, you've got to have all the requisite skills because you've got to instill confidence."
''You've got to get that person to trust you, and that apparently has taken place,” he added.
Mark my words: Now that Manafort has turned himself over to the FBI, many of these same people will do their best to distance themselves from his stink. They may even try to downplay Manafort’s role in getting Trump to the White House.
Don't let yourself be fooled by revisionism.