Manafort Shared Internal Polling Data with Russian Agent

Manafort Shared Internal Polling Data with Russian Agent January 9, 2019

Paul Manafort’s attorneys inadvertently filed a document with the court revealing that he had shared internal polling data from the Trump campaign with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian with close ties to Putin who worked with Manafort on Russian and Ukrainian political influence operations. They quickly refiled it, but not before reporters had the unredacted version.

Paul Manafort shared 2016 presidential campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate the FBI has said has ties to Russian intelligence, according to a court filing…

The special counsel alleged Manafort “lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign,” according to the unredacted filing. The source of that data, including whether it came from the Trump campaign, is unclear.

According to the court filing, the special counsel also accused Manafort of lying about discussing a Ukrainian peace plan with Kilimnik during the 2016 campaign…

In January 2017, Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen has said he was given a Russian-friendly peace plan for Ukraine during a meeting at a New York hotel with a Ukrainian lawmaker and Felix Sater, a longtime Trump business associate.

The proposal would have paved the way for the United States to lift sanctions on Russia, a top foreign policy goal of the Kremlin. Manafort told The Washington Post in 2017 he had “no role” in the episode.

So why does this matter? First, that polling data would have been enormously useful for the Russians as they sought to help Trump win the election because it would have allowed them to target their efforts to specific states and specific counties and districts. Second, it sets up an obvious quid pro quo: We’ll help you win, you agree to this peace plan that includes lifting sanctions, which Putin wanted, and still wants, very badly. Those sanctions are costing him tens of billions of dollars.

Third, remember that at the time Manafort was in serious debt to Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch who is Putin’s right-hand man. This is where the conspiracy lies. Manafort likely saw this as a way to kill three birds with one stone. We know that he eagerly sought to use his position with the Trump campaign to settle that debt, offering updates to Deripaska. For Manafort, he could erase his debt by giving the Russians something they valued highly, the lifting of sanctions, and they can help him engineer a Trump win through their social media propaganda campaign.

Also bear in mind that this was all going on around the time of the Republican National Convention, where the platform plank on the Russian invasion of Ukraine suddenly and mysteriously was changed from one of condemnation to one of acceptance. So we have multiple pieces of this puzzle all coming together to reveal the picture. And that picture points directly to a conspiracy.

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