January 11, 2019
President Donald Trump this week insisted that he had been totally unaware during his 2016 presidential run that his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, had shared polling data with a Russian associate linked to Kremlin intelligence.
“I didn’t know anything about that,” Trump told reporters about the news—which was unexpectedly revealed after a poorly redacted legal brief prepared by Manafort’s legal team was released on January 8.
The bungled court filing inadvertently exposed hidden details of the deeply shrouded Russia probe—pointing toward a connection between the Trump campaign staff and a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Indeed, The Hill and other media reported on January 10 that the document showed that Manafort had shared the polling data with not only Konstantin Kilimnik—a Russian national and former business associate of his who is suspected to have ties to the GRU, Moscow’s military intelligence agency—but had asked him to pass the information on to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
In the filing, Manafort’s defense attorneys challenged Mueller’s accusations that he lied to investigators on various topics, including his contacts and meetings with Kilimnik during the 2016 campaign. They argued that Manafort did not intentionally tell lies and later corrected the record when he was reminded of information he had not offered up, noting his memory and physical health have been impacted by his months in federal prison.
His lawyers have since filed a new response to Mueller’s allegations of lying that is properly redacted.
Trump has derided the Manafort’s case as having nothing to do with him or his campaign, but the revelations have raised fresh questions about whether the campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 presidential race. Trump has also denied that the campaign colluded with Russia and consistently attacked Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt.”
Manafort began working for the Trump campaign in March 2016 before he was forced to resign that August following revelations about his lobbying work on behalf of pro-Russian forces in Ukraine.
Research contact: @mchalfant16