What is a solemn retention

Trump chair Paul Manafort & colon; "Mercenary" lobbyist and valuable asset

Riva Levinson found herself at odds with her "narcissistic" former boss, but she agrees with former guerrilla fighter Jardo Muekalia: the lobbyist is effective


Donald Trump's campaign chairman took a "mercenary" approach after lobbying the US government to accuse international clients of murders, rape and other atrocities according to one of his former colleagues.

Manafort was a principal at the lobbying firm Black, Manafort, Stein and Kelly, which had close ties with the Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush administrations, as well as senior Republicans in Congress.

In this 1989 role he had no qualms about doing business with the "murderous dictator" of Somalia, Washington lobbyist Riva Levinson, recalls in a new memoir, Choice of the Hero: My Unlikely Journey and the Rise of Africa's First Woman President to Become focused on her work with Liberia's Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

“Arrogant, narcissistic, selfish, brilliant - all I can handle in Paul,” Levinson writes. "But it's Paul's mercenary demeanor that puts us at a quota."

In an interview at her office on K Street in Washington last week, Levinson told the Guardian, "Paul is awesome and he's one of those people who can work out a strategy at 30,000 ft together and then execute a game of chess with precision in the details. By Paul, I probably have a remarkable skill set, but I got my stock from Ellen. "

Now 67, Manafort has been hired as chief strategist to mastermind an unlikely victory for Trump in the November presidential election. He became a major player in appeasing anxious Republicans on Capitol Hill.

"He's going to win," Manafort told the Huffington Post last week. "He'll win if we - people like me - screw it up." It's not a tough race.

Critics say the unsavory international clientele Black, Manafort, Stein and Kelly added a "hangman lobby". When asked if Manafort has a moral compass, Levinson replied, "I don't know what Paul drove. We don't know what really drives anyone.

"The baseline decision that the company always made - and I know it, even though I was only 25 years old and was kind of on the lowest level -:" Will the US government want US Political support for this project? "" That was always the baseline of the company and what they did.

In her book, Levinson describes landing a job with Manafort in 1985 when she was young and had no political connections as her "big break". At her interview, she told him she was fearless, "And there's no place I'm not going!"

She writes: "I became Manafort's third world traveler choice."

Somalia, where military ruler Siad Barre had been accused, included in the words of an official presidency report on "summary killings, arbitrary arrests, poor detention, torture, rape". In one of Africa's many proxy conflicts during the Cold War, he was also considered a US ally against the Soviet Union.

Levinson writes: "" Are we sure we can have this guy as a customer? "I asked Manafort, in a garish display of first-mission naivete.

"Manafort sounded uneasy, as if I had asked the right question at the wrong time." We all know Barre is a bad guy, Riva. We just have to make sure he is our Villain is. Have a nice trip. ""

Levinson was supposed to get Barre to sign a $ 1m contract - with $ 250,000 up front and the rest wired up later - for Manafort to represent him in Washington. But writing in the present tense, she claims that she had moral doubts.

"It's one thing when you're pitching competing brands of toothpaste at American consumers. But it's another when your customers are players in a global battle against communism and the consequences of their actions - and you - can affect thousands of lives. I have to believe what I am doing and I have to believe that there is something for good, that is ingrained in my psyche.

"It's also what Manafort says my downfall in this business will be."

The trip to Mogadishu was a flop, with a guide failing to show up and calls to Barre et al. Going unrequited before food shortages, disease and a swarm of mayflies prompted a panicked exit as Barre advancing rebels fled.

Writing about their flight, Levinson recalls, "I know now that men like Manafort, the world is really a great stratego game and he plays to win. The consequences are secondary. He sent John [her colleague] and me on that wild goose chase, that totally pointless mission that might have killed both of us, just because Hey could. "

Somalia fell into anarchy, and a few years later, the intervention of the US Special Forces led to the infamous "Black Hawk Down" incident. Barre died in exile in Nigeria in 1995.

"One of the rare people who can reduce the noise by"

Manafort's lucrative client list has created a lot of control. In 1985 he signed a $ 1m contract with a Filipino group of companies to promote the autocrat Ferdinand Marcos, a few months before Marcos was overthrown and fled the country. In 1989, according to the Washington Post, he was hired to massage the image of the despot Mobutu Sese Seko from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) for $ 1 million a year.

In the mid-1990s, Manafort allegedly received nearly $ 90,000 to advise a Lebanese-born businessman and arms dealer to advise French presidential candidate Edouard Balladur, which surfaced as part of a French investigation into a poor sale of French submarines to Pakistan. In 2010, he helped pro-Russian-Ukrainian candidate Viktor Yanukovych rehabilitate his reputation and win presidential elections.

Levinson has been working with Manafort for a decade but is no longer in contact with him. She writes, "About 6ft tall with big brown eyes, a stocky build, and dark Italian features, Manafort isn't handsome, exactly, but he has impressive looks that make you notice him when he walks into a room. He is One of the rare people who can cut through the noise, pinpoint the crux of a problem and hit a solution.

“Within the company, we joke that working at BMS & K is like playing a great game of Stratego: build armies and intrigue to conquer the world. That's exactly what it feels like to work with Manafort. In fact, sometimes that's exactly what's going on. "

Well, Levinson describes himself as a "distraught Republican," unsure who she will vote for in the presidential election. But she describes Manafort as a "clever hire" from Trump.

"I don't know if he'll win it for Donald Trump," she said. "I don't know if anyone can speak to these voters. Nobody knows what to do."

In her globetrotter role for Manafort, Levinson also went into Equatorial Guinea in what she says was an attempt to promote multiparty democracy. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema is now the longest-serving leader in Africa, having held power since 1979.

She also went to Angola in 1992 for an election that was unsuccessful. The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita), headed by Jonas Savimbi, had the support of the apartheid government of South Africa and with the help of Manafort the aid had received from the Reagan administration.

UNITA had been at war with the Marxist MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) government since 1975 and when Angola gained independence from Portugal until shortly before the free elections in 1992. UNITA lost the election and went back to war, raising questions about the ethics of securing Savimbi.

In 2002, Human Rights Watch said world report: "Unita stepped up hit-and-run tactics against civilians. Rebels used terror as a policy to obtain supplies and forcing and intimidating civilians. Indiscriminate killings, mutilation of limbs or ears, and beatings were suspected by rebel government sympathizers punish or used as a warning of treason Unita.

"The Unita continued to forcibly fight men and teenage boys. Girls were sexual slavery and used as a source of forced labor."

"A pretty good return on our"

The Manafort role in Angola was lauded by Jardo Muekalia, 57, a former guerrilla fighter who joined Unita at the age of 16 and now lives in Washington. He met the lobbyist in 1986 when Manafort's diamond-rich company UNITA was discontinued to secure US support that would "create competitive conditions" in the war against the Soviet Union backed MPLA.

“In those days there was a very sharp cold war environment,” Muekalia recalls. "The reason [Manafort] was looked for ... was because of his access to the Reagan administration. He had access to a wide variety of senior officials, including the President himself.

"When I first met him, I was impressed ... with the level of political analysis and, most importantly, the ability to strategize in the Washington power structure. If I had any strength to show what he has, it was his ability to Look at the overall situation and then come up with a strategy to achieve the goals that it defines. "

The rent also worked for Unita, added Muekalia. Manafort secured a meeting for Savimbi with Reagan and Congress approved funds through the 1992 elections.

“We paid $ 600,000 [, Manafort] but we ended up getting 40m over a four year period so it was a pretty good return.” And you can't really judge the political value of having Washington diplomatically involved in that effort Bringing peace and bringing the parties to a negotiating table. "

Elias Isaac, Angola Country Director at the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, argues that Angola was a Cold War victim in which lobbyists played a role. "Public relations companies are there to take advantage of situations and make money out of them," he said. "They are not charity organizations, so they help themselves by becoming millionaires. Will Angola benefit? I have serious doubts.

"I am sure that the US will benefit because Namibia and South Africa became independent and Angola, still one of the cruelest regimes in the world, does not respect human rights and does not believe in real democracy. I would like to invite Paul and Riva to come to Angola and to make their arguments here so that we can understand on what basis they are saying these crazy fallacies. "

Muekalia, a U.S. citizen, said he had difficulty voting for Trump because of his positions on race relations and foreign policy. But he added, “I knew Paul Manafort had a moral compass.” _ FITTED

"My expectation is that coming on board this train is going to have a positive impact on Trump's leadership."

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