According to the civil suit filed in federal court in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Thursday, the Treasury Department assessed the penalties against the longtime lobbyist and political consultant in July 2020, exactly five months before then-President Donald Trump pardoned his former adviser on criminal tax, bank fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice convictions. That case was pursued by special counsel Robert Mueller, whose probe of alleged Russian influence on Trump’s 2016 campaign was the focus of intense and bitter criticism from Trump.
Interestingly, Manafort told Politico's Playbook a few weeks ago that he plans to go back to consulting. Although he claimed he’s going into “general business consulting,” not foreign-lobbying, and that he’s now pro-Ukraine, it should also not be forgotten just how intertwined with Russia he has been. That includes millions made working for the pro-Russian former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and helping to broker “a Ukraine ‘peace deal’ favorable to the Kremlin’s interests,” as Playbook put it.
More from Politico:
On the same day Trump left office in January 2021, a former Mueller deputy, Andrew Weissmann, published a legal commentary on the Just Security website arguing that Trump’s pardon of Manafort was poorly worded and failed to cover the charges he was never convicted on in Virginia. Noting that Manafort was sent home from his seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence after serving just two years, Weissmann argued that the punishment of Manafort was so modest that the Justice Department should consider re-prosecuting him on the 10 mistried charges in Virginia as well as other charges dismissed after he agreed to a plea deal with Mueller’s team to avoid a second trial in Washington.
Although the Justice Department could have tried to prosecute Manafort over the allegedly unfiled financial disclosures, the new court filing may signal that department attorneys concluded that a civil lawsuit was a more appropriate way to seek to further penalize the former Trump campaign official than initiating a new criminal prosecution.
Maybe the DOJ also wants to make sure Manafort does no further colluding with Russia with regard to American elections. Because if ever there was a time Russia would be looking to insert itself into our elections (again), that would be now.