Former Trump campaign manager — and convicted felon — Paul Manafort, has admitted to giving 2016 polling data to a Russian asset. In an exclusive interview with Business Insider, the Trump loyalist confessed to sharing information with Konstantin Kilimnik – a longtime business associate suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence.
In April of 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced a crackdown on Russian agents who interfered in the 2020 presidential election:
“Treasury will target Russian leaders, officials, intelligence services, and their proxies that attempt to interfere in the U.S. electoral process or subvert U.S. democracy,” said Secretary Janet L. Yellen. “This is the start of a new U.S. campaign against Russian malign behavior.”
Manafort has long denied any involvement in transferring sensitive information to Kilimnik, saying “The data that I shared with him, was a combination of public information and stuff for the spring that was — it was old.”
But emails seized by special prosecutor Robert Mueller during the investigation into foreign interference in the 2016 election revealed that Manfort had ordered his deputy, Rick Gates, to print out polling data.
Gates told the FBI that, on Manafort’s orders, he sent internal polling data to Kilimnik – communicating via What’s App and deleting the messages daily.
The relationship between Kilimnik and Manafort goes back years, with the foreign agent lobbying on behalf of Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yanukovych. Labeled a “Russian intelligence office” by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Kilimnik was sanctioned by the Treasury Department last year for giving Russian intelligence “sensitive” information on the Trump campaign.
After spending less than two years in prison, Manafort blamed memory loss due to his incarceration for his contradicting statements.
But the court didn’t buy it.
Manafort was sentenced to five years in prison for tax fraud and witness tampering by a federal judge, who said his “disregard for the truth” and “deliberate effort to obscure the facts” “undermines our political discourse” and “infects our policymaking,” Business Insider reported.
The line of Trump loyalists and sycophants waxing poetic on their experience with the ex-President just got longer. But like all the others, Manafort is no hero or patriot. Instead, he confirms what we already knew – there’s no end to the craven depths those allied with Trump will go to hang onto the sphere of power they’ve become accustomed to.
Original reporting by Mattathias Swartz at Business Insider.
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