A short and pretty straight line it is, actually.
Paul Manafort worked, for years grooming the preferred Ukrainian presidential candidate of Putin and the oligarchs, an oligarch-friendly, pro-Russian brute named Yanukovych. Manafort worked for these oligarchs for years, finally getting their man elected. Soon enough Yanokovich became notorious for his corruption and collusion with Putin. He became so hated in Ukraine that a mass uprising of Ukrainians drove him from power in 2014.
Democratic elections were held to fill the presidency vacated by Putin’s friend, who took refuge with Putin while being convicted in absentia by Ukrainian courts. A well-known Ukrainian politician was elected to serve the rest of Yanakovich’s term.
Manafort, a clever man of refined tastes who apparently loves wearing clothing made from the skins of exotic endangered species, found himself in desperate need of money and volunteered to work as Donald Trump’s campign manager, for free, no strings attched. Manafort knew from past experience (his long partnership with Rodger Stone) how lucrative it was to be able to give access to the current. U.S. president, he’d been doing it since Reagan. Working for free to get Trump elected, with guaranteed access, seemed like a win-win for Paul Manafort, until his many connections with Putin and Russian oligarchs became known and he was forced to step down as Trump’s campaign manager. He was later replaced by members of the secretive right-wing Council for National Policy, Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway (Ginni Thomas is also a member) . These were who Trump was talking about when he said he got the best people, the best people.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine,Volodymyr Zelensky, a popular Jewish comedian, trained as a lawyer, was elected in 2019 by write-in vote, with a 73% majority. Zelensky was the young, brand new democratically elected president of Ukraine as the embattled Trump was gearing up for the Rigged 2020 Election while transacting assorted quid pro quo pardons with Manafort, Roger Stone and others, for their help obstructong investigations into his shady activities and connections with Putin. Putin was threatening the Ukraine border and Zelensky, the new president, was awaiting the weapons that the US Congress had already approved for sale to Ukraine. There was the little matter of just a small favor though and within a few months after being outed by treasonous whistleblowers (Barr’s attempt to quash the legally required investigation of the perfect shake down call having failed) the president released the aid to Ukraine that he is now bragging about giving them back in 2019.
Paul Manafort, pardoned felon. No harm, no foul, he kept his mouth shut to protect his boss, and it’s all good. Zelensky is parrying Putin’s assassination attempts as his country is bombed and Manafort’s friends continue to support Putin. Some are even featured on Russia’s state TV.