The Associated Press reports today that a former campaign chairman for US President Donald Trump may have worked for what they termed as “Russian interests”. The report states that Paul Manafort, secretly worked for Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The story by the AP went on to say Manafort proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition among former Soviet states. The AP says their report may contradict statements by President Trump’s administration that Manafort never worked for “Russian interests”.
The report did not show who or what the anti-Russian opposition was and in what form it appeared. It was not clear what was meant by the broad term “Russian interests” and there was no reference in the report of the statement from President Trump’s administration or a date given as to when that was said.
The AP report also said Manafort “proposed 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 the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse.” It was not understood from the report how former President Bush’s relationship with Russia grew worse or why the “strategy plan” was considered confidential. The report stated, “Manafort pitched the plans to Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally…” but stopped short of stating how this company’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin differed from other large profitable companies in Russia. The report also said, “Manafort and Deripaska maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, according to one person familiar with the work.” The AP did not identify the individual who made that statement.
The AP reported on a memo from Manafort to Deripaska that stated, “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,” and, “will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.” The wording appears to show the memo was some sort of sales pitch appealing to the company’s Russian patriotism, however, the report did not explain what was referred to in the memo as “this model”.
The AP went on to say that, “the disclosure comes as Trump campaign advisers are the subject of an FBI probe and two congressional investigations. Investigators are reviewing whether the Trump campaign and its associates coordinated with Moscow to meddle in the 2016 campaign. Manafort has dismissed the investigations as politically motivated and misguided, and said he never worked for Russian interests. The documents obtained by AP show Manafort’s ties to Russia were closer than previously revealed.” The report failed to explain how Manafort’s global business venture factors into the FBI probe and investigations. It would have also been important to know how Manafort’s business activities with a Russian company tied him closer to Russia’s interests as mentioned in the report.
Manafort responded to the AP by stating that he worked for Deripaska in various countries but said the work was being unfairly cast as “inappropriate or nefarious” as part of a “smear campaign.” Manafort went on to say, “I worked with Oleg Deripaska almost a decade ago representing him on business and personal matters in countries where he had investments. My work for Mr. Deripaska did not involve representing Russia’s political interests.”
The rest of the report found below in the link goes on to state, among many other things, that unidentified individuals and those speaking on anonymity believe: Deripaska’s company may have ties to the Kremlin, Manafort has been a leading focus of the U.S. intelligence investigation, and that Manafort received money transfers from Deripaska that amounted to tens of millions of dollars.
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