WASHINGTON, D.C. — If the Bannon White House was hoping that the rumors, buzz, and innuendo centered around questionable ties to the Russian government was going to die down any time soon, an explosive new report from the Associated Press probably threw a little cold water on those hopes. This morning, AP reported that Paul Manafort, Co-President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, had previously helped advance a pro-Putin agenda and took several payments from the Russian government that he made an attempt to conceal.
This morning, Manafort was stopped as he entered Mari Vanna, a D.C. area restaurant considered to have some of the best and most authentic Russian cuisine in town, and asked questions by a couple reporters about the AP story. Mr. Manafort said he was “in a hurry” but did take time to explain that he was the target of a “fake news witch hunt.”
“This is all a hot, steaming bowl of nothing borscht, okay,” Manafort rhetorically asked the reporters, “and when this fake news witch hunt — of which I am an obvious target — is over, and the real pravdu comes out, the Associated Press is going to owe me one hell of an apology.”
Mr. Manafort was reportedly fidgeting with his pants pockets the entire time he spoke to the reporters. They noticed Manafort’s pockets were nearly bursting with what looked like rubles, Russia’s currency. Manafort was asked about the money in his pockets that just kept falling out on the sidewalk, piling up at his feet.
“What money,” Manafort asked at first, pretending not to see any.
The reporters pointed down toward Manafort’s shoes. The pile of rubles has reached his ankles. Manafort just made a quizzical face, as if he’d farted or something. The reporters again asked him about the obvious pile of Russian money at his feet.
“That’s not mine,” Manafort said flatly.
When it was pointed out by the reporters that the money was coming out of his pocket, Manafort again deflected.
“You can’t prove it’s my money though,” Mr. Manafort insisted, “and even if you could, you couldn’t prove I got it from Vlad or anyone else. And even if you could, you couldn’t prove that I took it to help advance Russia’s interests. And even if you did you can’t prove that I’m still working for them. And even if you could prove that I’m still working for Russia, you can’t prove that I’d put their interests in front of ours. Maybe I’m capable of gulyat’ peshkom and chewing gum at the same time, comrades. I could’ve served the evil Yankee empire and Mother Russia equally.”
After ten minutes of this game of cat and mouse over the money piling up at his feet, the reporters could sense they weren’t getting anywhere. They thanked Manafort for his time, and the former campaign manager walked into the restuarant, greeted by loud cheers and the Russian national anthem could be heard playing as the door closed.
The White House declined to comment. The Kremlin, however, released a statement saying they were “very proud” of “Paul the kukol’nyy” and that they had his back, because they know he’s got theirs.
Follow James on Twitter @JamboSchlarmbo.