Trump’s Campaign Chairman and Russia

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Paul Manafort was chairman of the Trump campaign from March until August of 2016. Speculation about the extent of Manafort’s ties to Russia is supported by circumstantial evidence.

The Associated Press (AP) added clarity to this hazy picture, Wednesday, when they published a memo between Manafort and Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. According to USA Today Deripaska is one of the few people Putin “turns to” on a consistent basis. Putin and Deripaska are regular traveling partners as well.

Manafort worked to improve the Russian government’s image in a number of ways according to the AP:

Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and former Soviet republics to benefit President Vladimir Putin’s government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse.

Manafort made this strategy proposal to Deripaska and later signed a $10 million annual contract starting in 2006. This business arrangement continued to at least 2009.

Here what is what Manafort wrote in a memo to Deripaska:

“We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,…. The effort, Manafort wrote, “will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.”

This memo is much more than the anonymous sources the Trump administration decries. We have Manafort from his own pen.

That’s not all. The AP article also says business records show that Manafort planned to open an office in Moscow:

The newly obtained business records link Manafort more directly to Putin’s interests in the region. According to those records and people with direct knowledge of Manafort’s work for Deripaska, Manafort made plans to open an office in Moscow, and at least some of his work in Ukraine was directed by Deripaska, not local political interests there. The Moscow office never opened.

I suspect this is not welcome news for the Trump administration.

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