Sunday, September 6, 2020


Just over a year ago while I was lying in my bunk at MCC federal prison, I asked my celly Paul Manafort if there was any collusion with the Russians. Generally, I didn't get political with Paulie as I figured a) the last thing he wanted to do was talk politics with an inmate and b) I didn't want to start a feud with a felon with whom I shared 70 square feet.

Still, I sprung the question benignly out of the blue just for fun to see how he'd react. Without missing a beat, he emphatically denied the Trump organization had any involvement with Russia - and that it was all a hoax. I chose not to pursue the matter convinced that any sane argument to the contrary would only induce an uncomfortable situation. Plus...I was pretty sure there had been some hanky panky in the equation - and Paulie's expected denial came as no surprise.

A few minutes later, I went to visit my best friend at MCC, a man who owned a PHD in Astro-physics from UCLA Berkley. I knew John would love to hear this news. "I just asked Paulie if there was any collusion with the Russians and he totally denied it. I got the idea he's told himself this bull shit so many times he could pass a lie detector test."

In light of the recent news about the Trump administration's relationships with Russians - and specifically Paul's - I think it 's pretty fair to say that my intuition was correct. Paul was full of shit. And I could tell.

Some time later, Paul did something tacky and I confronted him. When I asked Paul exactly why he did what he did, Paul told me a bald-faced lie - to which I gave him a cross-eyed look and said "just because I'm down in the kitchen or on suicide duty doesn't mean I don't have eyes in this unit. I know you're lying to me. It's ok. Don't worry about it."

Paul shook my hand and put his left on my shoulder to reassure me he appreciated my candor and acceptance of his indiscretion and coverup. It wasn't that big a deal. I just wanted to see if when confronted, Paul would lie. He did.

All this leads me to shake my head at the implications. Is it all politicians who are full of shit - or is it just Trump and his cronies? Maybe I'm bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but say what you want about Obama, I think in the same situation, he would have told me the truth about what he'd done. And for that matter, I don't think he would have done what Paulie did in the first place.

In a perfect world, Trump will be voted out and prosecuted for his crimes - and his whole sordid presidency will go down in infamy. As for Paul? He's just an old tax cheat and money launderer who takes a battery of pills everyday. At least he didn't try to be president.

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