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Here is how Paul Manafort could be useful for the Russia investigation

Here is how Paul Manafort could be useful for the Russia investigation

In a deal with the special board office, Manafort pleaded Friday for a conspiracy against the US for his unnamed foreign lobbying and agreed to cooperate with the authorities.

As part of the deal, he will have to admit that he has committed all crimes he has committed or committed outside of the tax, financial and non-publicized foreign lobbying matters dealt with in his agreement, and he will be obliged to to work on an investigation or research by a grand jury. The plea specifically states that Manafort is obliged to "cooperate fully, truthfully, fully and openly with the government".

Specialist Robert Mueller, who has brought charges against Manafort, is investigating Russian interference with the 2016 American elections and related cases. He also received permission from the Department of Justice for allegations that Paul Manafort had committed a crime or crimes by cooperating with Russian government officials & # 39; as part of the Kremlin's attempt to influence the presidential race.

Russian election interference

Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 and served as chairman from May until he resigned in August after reports on his lobbying with the pro-Russian Ukrainian political party were made public. As a member of the campaign when Trump won the Republican nomination, Manafort was able to shed light on the foreign policy strategy of the campaign and contacts with Russians.

Manafort attended the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 in which Donald Trump jr. Agreed after he promised information that accused the accusing candidate Hillary Clinton & # 39 ;. Several participants told the lawmakers under oath that the meeting changed into Russian adoptions and the Magnitsky Act, an American sanctions law that focuses on human rights violators.

Manafort offered to give a briefing the next month about the campaign to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to The Washington Post. Manafort mailed an intermediary with the request to send a message to Deripaska, reported the Post.

"If he needs private briefings, we can adjust them", wrote Manafort, according to the Post, to read the sections of an e-mail dated 7 July 2016 to the newspaper.

Deripaska has known Manafort for a long time. He invested millions at Manafort a decade ago in a failed cable deal. The deal went south and Deripaska sued Manafort. The 2010 tax return for a Manafort-controlled company indicated that Deripaska lent him $ 10 million, according to an FBI statement filed in court.

Konstantin Kilimnik, the business partner of Manafort in his lobbying in Ukraine, according to The Washington Post, was the intermediary between Manafort and Deripaska. The office of the special council described Kilimnik in judicial archives as active links with Russian intelligence services. Kilimnik himself has denied any association with the Russian intelligence service.

He was charged with Manafort for allegedly contacting witnesses in an attempt to disrupt the investigation. While Manafort was a member of the campaign, others also made contact with Russians, although it is not clear what Manafort knew about other contacts.

Manafort met Kilimnik twice while working on the Trump campaign in 2016, according to The Washington Post and Politico. Jason Maloni, the Manafort spokesman, told the Post: "It would not be surprising or suspicious that two political advisers would chat about the political news of the day, including the DNC hack, which was in the news."

Roger Stone

Manafort is an old business partner of Roger Stone, who served as an informal adviser for Trump and was briefly involved in the campaign. The researchers at Mueller have questioned some of Stone's employees over the hacks of Democratic National Committee servers in 2016 – in which Russian hackers stole thousands of documents, according to US intelligence, and WikiLeaks more than 20,000 internal DNC has posted e-mails – and all communication with WikiLeaks.
Stone claimed to have a "back-channel" for WikiLeaks in 2016 and seemed to predict some e-mail landings that caused the last part of the presidential campaign and damaged Clinton. He was also referred to, albeit not by his name, in the charges against twelve Russian intelligence agents who had communicated with Guccifer 2.0, the online persona used by Russian intelligence services. Stone himself was not accused of any wrongdoing.

He has denied any collusion with Russians. After Manafort's plea, he made a statement: "I'm uncertain about the details of Paul's plea agreement, but I'm sure it has no influence on me, since neither Paul Manafort nor anyone else can testify truthfully that I am involved in the Russian collusion, WikiLeaks co-operation or any other illegal act related to the 2016 election. "

What does he know about the Trump file?

There are still many unanswered questions about the infamous file that was written in 2016 by former British spy Christopher Steele, who claims that the Trump campaign and the Russian government are widespread. CNN has reported that researchers have confirmed some aspects of the dossier, but it is still unclear whether one of the explosive claims in the memos has any merit.

In the memo's Manafort is mentioned several times and he is accused of leading a secret conspiracy. His lawyers denied that there was a collusive relationship. But if Manafort can shed some light on the file memos, researchers want to know that. The FBI regarded Steele as a reliable source, but researchers can reinforce any case of conspiracy if Manafort can confirm one of the claims.

lobbyists

The Mueller prosecutors referred to the American law firm in the southern district of New York about other persons involved in lobbying in Ukraine, including Democrat Tony Podesta of the Podesta Group, former Republican representative Vin Weber of Mercury LLC and the law firm Skadden , Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. Manafort's guilty plea includes the most direct accusation by the special counsel's office that the lobby firm that Manafort hires knew they were working for Ukrainian politicians and not an independent non-profit organization. Mercury and Podesta served as lobbyists, but did not act as foreign agents after Manafort's Ukrainian lobbying activities were exposed by reporters in 2016.

Representatives of Podesta and Mercury have said that they have participated in the investigation of the special counsel.

Podesta Group said it had trusted on a non-profit organization's certifications that it was independent of Ukrainian politicians and that it served as lobbyists. A Mercurius spokesperson said they waived the lawyer-client privilege to allow prosecutors to see their full exchange with their lawyers, who advised them to serve as a lobbyist but not as foreign agents.

Skadden did not answer any calls for comment.

It is possible that prosecutors would seek the cooperation of Manafort in ongoing investigations into the lobbyists, the law firm and Kilimnik.

Why has the GOP platform changed?

The Mueller team wants to know more about the decision of the Republican National Convention 2016 to change the party platform with regard to Ukraine, according to a list of Mueller's questions for Trump that was published by The New York Times. As the platform was being drawn up, Trump campaign officials stepped in to block a provision on arming Ukraine to fight Russian-backed militias.

Speculation immediately fell on Manafort, because of his vast experience in working for pro-Russia interests in Ukraine. But in TV interviews at that time Manafort denied that the campaign played a role in changing the language. Now Manafort is obliged to collaborate with researchers, they will probably ask him these questions and see if he has more to offer than what he said on TV.

What about Papadopoulos?

Trump advertising advisor George Papadopoulos was told by a professor associated with the Kremlin that the Russians were dirty on Clinton in the form of thousands of emails, months before their existence was publicly known. Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lie to the FBI about his Russian contacts, has denied having told anyone about the e-mails campaign. But the young foreign policy adviser was vague in a recent interview with CNN, saying that he "can not guarantee" that it did not happen and that "maybe" happened, but he no longer knows.

It is already known that Papadopoulos told others about the campaign about his efforts to organize a meeting between Trump and Putin. Manafort was even copied on some of the e-mails about it, and was open to sending "someone on a low level" to Russia, but not Trump. If Papadopoulos did indeed tell the campaign about the e-mails – which Manafort might know – it would undermine all denials.

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