Paul Manafort is not the best people. Yesterday, as news came down about Manafort’s eight felony convictions, the president kept insisting that Manafort is really “a good guy.” He isn’t. Good guys don’t hide their money in overseas bank accounts in an effort to defraud the federal government. Good guys don’t lie about their assets to get bank loans. Good guys don’t drape themselves in python and ostrich. Truly they do not.
Manafort was convicted primarily of fraud. He lied about his assets in order to steal money from the federal government and from banks. So Manafort is a thief, no different from any other thief. He is the person who breaks into your house at 2 a.m. and walks off with your television set. He is the masked man carrying a gun into the branch of your local bank. He is the purse snatcher on the street. He is the guy casing your back alley and checking to see if your car is unlocked. He is the Saudi Prince making an online plea for your bank account info.
I understand that plenty of wealthy people find ways to avoid paying taxes. Manafort isn’t the only jerk defrauding the government with fancy accounting maneuvers, but that doesn’t make it okay. I’m reminded of my mother’s mantra to my middle school self: just because your friends are doing something stupid doesn’t mean you should do something stupid too. Manafort is a criminal. He is an epic sleazeball. He thought he was above the law and he just discovered that he isn’t.
I hope all the other so-called white collar sleazeball criminals sit up and take notice. And I hope prosecutors are paying attention to the people defending Manafort right now. Any person who insists that a criminal is a good guy is probably a criminal too. Go get ’em.