Paul Manafort admits helping Russians

Donald Trump’s one-time presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort admitted in a court filing that he provided polling data from the campaign to a Russian with ties to intelligence during the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

Background

Paul Manafort is a political consultant and lobbyist who joined the Trump Presidential campaign in March 2016. In August 2016, reports noted that Manafort had ties to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions. It was also alleged that he may have illegally received $12.7 million off the books. He left the campaign shortly thereafter.

In 2017, the American media revealed that during the campaign, Trump Jr met with Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya and music promoter Rob Goldstone. Veselnitskaya has deep ties to Kremlin. Based on emails released by Trump Jr, Goldstone had promised information that would be harmful to Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. The meeting was also attended by Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor at the White House and Manafort.

Additionally, details have since emerged that Manafort has been under investigation from the FBI since 2014. Other intelligence agencies such as the CIA, NSA and the Director of National Intelligence are also investigating him.

Analysis

Manafort has denied that he had lied about his dealings with Konstantin Kilimnik, arguing he merely forgot details during the hectic election campaign.

The specifics of the Mueller allegations were not previously known publicly, having been blacked out in a heavily redacted Dec. 7 filing by the prosecutor’s team.

However, in Manafort’s response, the electronic formatting for the redaction could easily be bypassed, revealing exactly what Manafort was accused of lying about.

It showed that Mueller had questioned Manafort on his discussions with Kilimnik in 2016 on a possible peace plan for Ukraine — where the two had worked together several years earlier for a pro-Russia political party.

That could be significant because Manafort is believed to have played a role in changing the Republican position on Ukraine during 2016 to a more Moscow-friendly stance.

Assessment

Our assessment is that Manafort’s confession further testified to the unorthodox nature of Trump's campaign. We believe that the Mueller investigation will release its amended report after the recent revelations by Manafort.