Russiagate: Possible smoking gun in Manafort’s notes as Cohen lawyer letter leaks
Paul Manafort’s notes from a controversial Trump Tower meeting with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign included the word “donations,” near a reference to the Republican National Committee, two sources briefed on the evidence told NBC News.
The references, which have not been previously disclosed, elevated the significance of the June 2016 meeting for congressional investigators, who are focused on determining whether it included any discussion of donations from Russian sources to either the Trump campaign or the Republican Party.
It is illegal for foreigners to donate to American elections. The meeting happened just as Trump had secured the Republican nomination for president, and he was considered a longshot to win. Manafort was the campaign chairman at the time.
Manafort’s notes, typed on a smart phone and described by one source briefed on the matter as cryptic, were turned over to the House and Senate intelligence committees and to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. They contained the words “donations,” and “RNC” in close proximity, the sources said.
Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni told NBC News that “it is 100 percent false to suggest this meeting included any discussion of donations from Russian sources to either the Trump campaign or the Republican Party. Mr. Manafort provided the Senate Intelligence Committee with the facts and his notes so this speculation and conjecture is pointless and wrong.”
I guess Maloni has never heard that favorite Republican trope from the Whitewater days: “It would be irresponsible not to ask.”
Meanwhile, a letter from Michael Cohen’s letter to House investigators has leaked, and we have the whole thing.
Cohen’s lawyers try their best in the letter, dated August 14th, to debunk claims made in the famous and partially corroborated Michael Steele dossier. We have not been able to absorb the entire letter, but we did catch one questionable claim: apparently, there is no stamp on Cohen’s passport indicating he went to Prague.
Problem is, the Czech Republic is part of the EU – which does not stamp from nation to nation.
Here’s the entire letter. Click each page for a mondo-big version.