You may have heard that formerly jailed Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who the former president pardoned on his way out of the White House, was blocked from boarding a plane to Dubai on Sunday.
Manafort was stopped due to an invalid passport, according to Miami-Dade police. Just to be clear, the reasons for Manafort’s trip remain unknown, and there’s no evidence to suggest that he was planning anything criminal or untoward.
On the other hand, there are a lot of, let's say, interesting things going on in the city of Dubai currently. Things that might appeal to someone like Manafort, who has ties to Russian oligarchs and a record of aiding Russian-backed leaders in Ukraine. (As a result of some of those efforts, Manafort pleaded guilty in 2018 to, among other things, violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act and lying and misrepresenting to the Department of Justice.)
Dubai, for example, has become a popular destination for Russian oligarchs looking to park their wealth — including their lavish yachts — in order to evade the pesky global sanctions levied against Russia for invading Ukraine. The United Arab Emirates has yet to announce similar sanctions, nor has it denounced the invasion. If Manafort is looking to high-dive off a Russian billionaire’s yacht helipad, or just chat over dinner, Dubai is a great destination this time of year.
And speaking of wealthy Russians, one of Manafort’s more infamous former clients has recently made his way back into the news. Before U.S. officials say Manafort allegedly coordinated with a Russian spy and other Russian officials looking to help the Trump campaign, he was a political consultant to Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych was once the Kremlin-backed leader of Ukraine, but fled to Russia after being ousted for corruption. (Yanukovych denies he was corrupt, of course.)
Yanukovych has reportedly been floated as a potential replacement president if Ukraine falls under Russian control. So now would certainly seem like an opportune time for he and Manafort to get back in touch. Perhaps Dubai could be a nice pit stop on the way to Russia?
Or maybe Manafort just wants to sunbathe.