Apparently, the Associated Press has gathered interviews and professional documents that prove former-Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort aided a Russian billionaire’s effort to progress President Vladimir Putin’s political career. Manafort also crafted political plans to thwart anti-Russian opponents in regions no longer under Soviet rule.
[Video: courtesy of ABC News]
The compiled records entail strategies and Deripraska-to-Manafort international wire transfers in the tens-of-millions-of-dollars range through 2009 or longer. However, it’s unknown in terms of Manafort’s work hours and the exact amount Manafort was paid. (They kept their interactions anonymous, as the payments were not authorized to be disclosed publicly.)
This discovery might not be the best thing, as Team Trump members are already enduring the FBI and Congress in terms of the president’s administration possibly colluding with Moscow during the 2016 campaign. Manafort himself seemed to shrug these investigations off as political schemes and obliviousness. However, the aforementioned documents avail Manafort and Russia to have been pretty tight.
Manafort did tell the media his Deripraska jobs were in a myriad of countries but pontificated his projects were being misrepresented as “inappropriate or nefarious” and in a “smear-campaign” effort. “I worked with Oleg Deripraska almost a decade ago, representing him on business and personal matters in countries where he had investments,” Manafort explained. “My work for Mr. Deripraska did not involve representing Russian, political interests.”
[Video: courtesy of CNBC]
When asked about Manafort’s consulting firm, one Deripraska spokesman said Deripraska did not employ the firm—this person worked for Deripraska in 2008 (three years after the Manafort-Deripraska collaboration). Another was asked but chose to not give out information.
It should be noted while Manafort was Team Trump’s campaign chairman, he wasn’t paid. More, his “internship” was between March and August of 2016. Further, Trump severed ties with Manafort upon learning Manafort puppet mastered a secret Washington-lobbying project through 2014—the effort was made in support of Ukraine’s in-power, Russia-leaning political outfit.
The obtained-from-mysterious-people information connects Manafort straight to Putin’s dealings in Russia. According to them, Manafort was looking to have a Moscow office—it never came to fruition. And Deripraska oversaw only some of Manafort’s Ukraine projects—no political interests.
While US intelligence is currently zeroed in on Manafort in terms of the Trump-Russia ordeal (investigation details are confidential), federal agents brought him to light in 2014—a larger effort to decipher theft of Ukraine assets upon the expulsion of the country’s Russia-heavy President Viktor Yanukovych. However, there are no US criminal charges as of yet.
In the midst of FBI Director James Comey’s testimonials to Congress, he did not confirm Manafort as a suspect. But Manafort’s name did come up 28 times in the House Intelligence Committee hearing—Deripraska’s did not.
Manafort may not be part of Team Trump, but Manafort did tell an associate he and the president still talk on the phone (break ups are hard). Manafort associate Rick Gates visited the White House frequently—he helped Team Trump with the inauguration. Currently, Gates operates an NPO (non-profit organization), which aids the White House—America First Policies.
While Gates’s name never wasn’t found in the newly received information, he came aboard Manafort’s firm in 2006 and knew of the Manafort-Deripraska relationship but not about the projects stated in the evidence. Gates’s time at Manafort’s firm ended in March 2016—the time he came aboard Team Trump’s campaign effort.
Here are a couple of 2005 Manafort-to-Deripraska statement from the provided documentation: in terms of Manafort’s work in the Ukraine, he “[was promoting policies] at the highest levels of the US government—the White House, Capitol Hill and the State Department.” And Manafort employed a “leading, international, law firm with close ties to President Bush to support our client’s interests.” (The law firm was not named.) The documents also revealed Manafort hiring legal advisers from top schools and think tanks—Duke University, New York University and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. This was done to assist in said project(s). Manafort did not elaborate on the lobbying effort(s) during his contract time frame when talking to the Justice Department.
Let it be known the Foreign Agents Registration Act forbids people from US lobbying for foreign, political leaders/political entities without elaborately reporting their operations/actions to the DOJ—it’s a felony when failing to do so. Those involved could do a nickel of hard time and be fined up to $250,000—but it’s rare for the US government to press charges.
The strategy memos themselves entailed proposals from Manafort. He suggested lobbying in the US, which would enable oligarchs to retain ownership of Ukraine-located, previously-state-owned assets. He also suggested forming “long-term relationships” with Western journos and an array of precautions that would hiring, communications and monetary preparation by Russian-heavy entities in said area.
Manafort’s proposals entailed his Eastern Europe efforts stretching to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Georgia—he said he could confirm pro-Putin governments and competitively price Russian-opposed numbers via political campaigns, NPO fronts and media projects.
Rick Davis, Manafort’s then business partner, co-authored one of the strategies. But to the media, Davis wrote he wasn’t aware the firm had pitched a proposal to do undercover-PR work for the Russian government. Davis claimed Manafort put his name on the strategy proposal without getting the green light. “My name was on every piece of stationery used by the company and in every memo prior to 2006. It does not mean I had anything to do with the memo described,” Davis explained in his correspondence to the media. More, he actually went on hiatus in late 2006 in an effort to aid the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign.
Eventually, Manafort burned his bridge with Deripraska when he invested $19 million of the billionaire’s money into a Ukrainian cable company—Manafort went dark upon Deripraska making multiple inquiries as to how the money was invested. Deripraska’s people publicly slapped the fraud sign on Manafort as they tried to get the money back. But once Team Trump was nominated in early 2016, Deripraska’s people stopped barking about the dirty deal.
Ultimately, after combing the information thus far, it seems Manafort’s a crooked-business guy who burned a Russian billionaire before doing a short-lived internship for Team Trump. Once Manafort was within the temporarily safe walls of a winning, presidential campaign, all the media and political partying drowned out Deripraska’s attempts at getting his money back. From here, it’s “more will be revealed.”