I heard a great podcast yesterday from someone I’ve never heard of, she calls herself the Politics Girl. She makes all the connections between Manafort, Trump and Putin and outlines Putin’s long-term psy-ops plan, a deliberate and clever information war to sow discord and violent division to destabilize “the West” dating back a decade or more.
Manafort, of course, worked for a years to the get corrupt pro-Russian, anti-Nato Putinist Viktor Yanukovych, elected president of Ukraine. In 2004 then-Prime Minister Yanukovych lost a second run-off election for president after the first runoff was marked by massive fraud on his behalf.  In the new runoff election demanded by the “Orange Revolution”, and ordered by the Ukrainian court, Yanukovych lost 52% to 44% to a candidate who had been poisoned with a high tech toxin during the campaign (and lived) . Paul Manafort arrived too late to swing the 2004 election to Putin’s man, but after six years of grooming the the savvy political dirty trickster helped Yanukovych win the presidency in 2010, only to see him ousted for corruption by a popular uprising, the “Orange Revolution”. Putin, who had annexed Crimea earlier in 2014 was furious at the setback, and kicked up his radical psy ops/disinformation war against democracy.
Soon after Yanukovych’s ouster Manafort, of course, still in contact with pro-Putin oligarchs in Russia and Ukraine, was managing Trump’s campaign for free. Manafort was in a Trump Tower conference room for that “dirt on Hillary, I love it!” meeting with Don. Jr., Jared Kushner and the Russian lawyer and also, according to Marco Rubio’s Senate Committee, had many communications with and gave sensitive polling data (about key states that would be narrowly won by Trump) to a GRU agent named Konstantin Kilimnik. The Politics Girl describes Putin’s long psychological war, and his skillful use of social media, including innovative work with bot farms to convince Americans that millions followed Trump early on. Putin did much to effectively sow discord in the US and other western democracies (he did similar yeoman-like work on Brexit). She sadly concludes he did a great job convincing that volatile 39% of our countrymen that lies are truth, that the true enemy of good Americans are anti-fascists and anti-racists, that Putin good, Ukraine bad, that only Trump can save them, etc. I need to transcribe several sections of that longish talk, there is some great stuff in there, very well-said.
Here’s a slice, from about ten minutes in, explaining why so many on the right are suddenly fans of Putin’s, and support mob violence to oust dangerous radical far-left Communist Joe Biden, after laying out the predicate stuff beautifully:
 from Wikipedia
Between the two rounds of the election, dramatic increases in turnout were recorded in Yanukovych-supporting regions, while Yushchenko-supporting regions recorded the same turnout or lower than recorded in the first round. This effect was most marked in eastern Ukraine and especially in Yanukovych’s stronghold of Donetsk Oblast, where a turnout of 98.5% was reportedly claimed—more than 40% up from the first round. In some districts, turnout was recorded to be more than 100% than the previous ballot, with one district reported by observers to have recorded a 127% turnout. According to election observers and post-election investigations, pro-Yanukovych activists traveled around the country and voted many times as absentees. Some groups dependent on government assistance, such as students, hospital patients and prisoners, were told to vote for the government candidate.
 Despite his poisoning Yushchenko survived and won the election by a wide margin:
Manafort arrived in Ukraine in the wake of the Orange Revolution, a popular uprising that had blocked the pro-Russian Yanukovych from taking power in 2004. One of the leaders of that revolt, an economist named Viktor Yushchenko, fell suddenly ill as his movement for European integration was gaining momentum that fall; doctors determined that he had been poisoned with dioxin, a substance that turned his telegenic face into a mask of green and yellow scars.