Campaign ’16: Trump wasn’t Manafort’s priority – guess who was? (Hint: Mueller Time!)
Paul Manafort may have been managing Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, but it wasn’t his only priority. In fact, it’s looking like the campaign wasn’t his top priority. How do we know? Julia Ioffe and Franklin Foer at The Atlantic have been taking a look at the latest delicious Russiagate leak: a collection of Paul Manafort’s e-mails from the period during which he was on board the Trump Train.
Can you say “compromised unregistered foreign agent“?
On the evening of April 11, 2016, two weeks after Donald Trump hired the political consultant Paul Manafort to lead his campaign’s efforts to wrangle Republican delegates, Manafort emailed his old lieutenant Konstantin Kilimnik, who had worked for him for a decade in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.
“I assume you have shown our friends my media coverage, right?” Manafort wrote.
“Absolutely,” Kilimnik responded a few hours later from Kiev. “Every article.”
“How do we use to get whole,” Manafort asks. “Has OVD operation seen?”
According to a source close to Manafort, the initials “OVD” refer to Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska, a Russian oligarch and one of Russia’s richest men. The source also confirmed that one of the individuals repeatedly mentioned in the email exchange as an intermediary to Deripaska is an aide to the oligarch.
The emails were provided to The Atlantic on condition of anonymity. They are part of a trove of documents turned over by lawyers for Trump’s presidential campaign to investigators looking into the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election. A source close to Manafort confirmed their authenticity. Excerpts from these emails were first reported by The Washington Post, but the full text of these exchanges, provided to The Atlantic, shows that Manafort attempted to leverage his leadership role in the Trump campaign to curry favor with a Russian oligarch close to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Manafort was deeply in debt, and did not earn a salary from the Trump campaign.
Despite his apparently precarious financial situation, Manafort went to work for the Trump campaign for free in March 2016. Later that year, he took out $16 million in loans against his New York properties. (The loans are now being investigated by both the Manhattan District Attorney and the New York Attorney General.) In the email exchange that took place two weeks after starting on the campaign, Manafort seemed primarily concerned with the Russian oligarch’s approval for his work with Trump—and asked for confirmation that Deripaska was indeed paying attention.
“Yes, I have been sending everything to Victor, who has been forwarding the coverage directly to OVD,” Kilimnik responded in April, referring again to Deripaska. (“Victor” is a Deripaska aide, the source close to Manafort confirmed.) “Frankly, the coverage has been much better than Trump’s,” Kilimnik wrote. “In any case it will hugely enhance your reputation no matter what happens.”
There’s much more at the link.
Our money is still on Manafort cutting a deal with Mueller – after he is indicted.