Paul Manafort

According to a new indictment, Paul Manafort left an incriminating paper trail because, bless his heart, he couldn’t figure out how to save a Word document as a PDF.

The former chairman of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign was recently hit with a “superseding indictment” by special counsel Robert Mueller on Thursday, along with his associate, Rick Gates, who was Trump’s deputy campaign chair. While Gates pleaded guilty Friday to charges of financial conspiracy and lying to federal investigators, Manafort is still pleading not guilty to as of this writing.

The nature of the charges involved various measures Paul Manafort and Rick Gates took to conceal approximately $30 million obtained by lobbying for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, like opening offshore bank accounts and purchasing real estate with cash. Among the charges in the 32-count indictment Mueller issued Thursday (18 additional charges for Manafort) was a particularly humorous section about how Manafort accidentally incriminated himself due to his lack of competency at Microsoft Word.

On page 26 of the indictment, Mueller described how Paul Manafort falsified a profit and loss statement (P&L) by drastically overstating his income in order to fraudulently obtain roughly $20 million in loans. Even though Manafort had no trouble maneuvering complex financial labyrinths in order to funnel his illicit money into real estate and other assets, Mueller’s indictment shows that the process of converting a Word document to a PDF got the best of Manafort:

To create the false 2016 P&L, on or about October 21, 2016, MANAFORT emailed GATES a .pdf version of the real 2016 DMI P&L, which showed a loss of more than $600,000. GATES converted that .pdf into a “Word” document so that it could be edited, which GATES sent back to MANAFORT. MANAFORT altered that “Word” document by adding more than $3.5 million in income. He then sent this falsified P&L to GATES and asked that the “Word” document be converted back to a .pdf, which GATES did and returned to MANAFORT.

If convicted on all counts, Paul Manafort faces up to 30 years in prison, and would have to pay fines adding up to as much as $1 million.


Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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