Whatever else happens in our lives, it will always be true that we collectively lived through a really quite unprecedented moment in American history in which the immediate past president of the United States had to pardon his campaign manager, had to pardon his longstanding political adviser, had to pardon his national security adviser, had to pardon his foreign policy adviser, had to pardon the deputy chair of his inaugural and his deputy campaign chairman went to prison and his personal lawyer went to prison.
And his other personal lawyer is under federal criminal investigation. And he himself personally is named by prosecutors as an unindicted coconspirator in multiple federal felonies. And he himself personally is currently, as we speak, under active criminal investigation in two states. This is our life. Congratulations. This is what we have done. But even amidst that cavalcade of indicted and or imprisoned and or pardoned associates and coconspirators of the former president who wants to be president again, his campaign chairman specifically still manages to stand out and is still making news today.
You will recall his name is Paul Manafort. He was convicted of multiple felonies, including tax fraud, tax fraud, and bank fraud, much of it connected to millions of dollars in secret payments he got from his former employer, a pro-Putin authoritarian leader who used to rule Ukraine. Manafort served a small portion of his federal prison sentence before President Trump pardoned him right on his way out of office. But there has remained a sort of enduring mystery around Manafort Short-Lived cooperation agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller and why it collapsed.
Prosecutors allege that Manafort had lied to them about a whole bunch of things and lying to them that voided his deal, voided the cooperation agreement that he had made with them. The judge looked at all the evidence of that and agreed with prosecutors, but. Much of the court record of that episode has remained unredacted until now. And so now we know today in black and white what Trump’s campaign chair lied to prosecutors about on pain of considerable prison time for doing so.
Here’s Andrew Weissman speaking to the judge. Quote, The issue of internal campaign polling data being sent to blank who the defendant conceded is extremely close to the senior leader in Russia is at the core of what the special counsel is supposed to be investigating. From another new document, newly unredacted, quote, Manafort lied to the government about his sharing of internal Trump campaign data with Klimek, that would be Konstantin Klimek, a longtime business associate of Paul Manafort, who the US government says is a Russian intelligence agent.
Just last month, the US government asserted that Manafort did share those polling documents with Kalinich and that Klimek then shared them with Russian intelligence. We’ve long known the broad outlines of this part of the story, but we now know from these newly redacted, newly unredacted filings that no one Manafort lied to prosecutors about the nature of the data he was sharing. He insisted it was no big deal. It was an internal valuable material. It was all just stuff you get publicly anyway.
That was a lie. Also, he lied about whether he was giving it to someone who he knew would pass it on to the Russian government. Here’s the judge quote, The event we are discussing involves sharing internal confidential polling data covered by a non-disclosure agreement not only outside the campaign, but he’s sharing it with a foreign national, with a specific understanding and intent that it would be passed on to other foreign nationals, in this case, Russians. Why would Donald Trump’s Kremlin-linked campaign chair be sharing protected, valuable internal campaign polling data with a Russian intelligence officer while Russia was carrying out an attack on our election to try to get Trump elected?
That was what fully half the Mueller investigation was about, what Russia did to our election to try to elect Trump and how the Trump campaign was involved in it and perhaps assisted. It’s what we thought happened. Happened. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, sharing this kind of data with a Russian intelligence officer is the proverbial smoking gun in terms of how the Trump campaign was involved in it, giving Russia material they could use to target their interference on Trump’s behalf, which they then did.