One of the biggest mysteries surrounding Trump is his hiring of Paul Manafort to run his campaign. Prior to that time Manafort was known for his assistance to and closeness to Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych who was driven from his presidency by a popular uprising of the Ukrainian people during the Maidan protests in 2014.The uprising was caused by Yanukovych’s attempt to put Ukraine under the control of Putin. When he left office he fled to Russia.
Manafort was hired by Trump to run his campaign in March 2016 a little over two years after Manafort’s buddy Yanukovych established himself in Russia under Putin’s protection. Was it surprising then that while he was his manager and after Trump has secured enough votes to be nominated to be the Republican standard-bearer that we would read in the Washington Post headlines stating: “Trump campaign guts GOP’s anti-Russian stance on Ukraine.” .
The first paragraph read: “The Trump campaign worked behind the scenes last week to make sure the new Republican platform won’t call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces, contradicting the view of almost all Republican foreign policy leaders in Washington.” The original language proposed to give Ukraine lethal weapons to defend itself. Part of the original reasoning stated: “Today, the post-Cold War ideal of a ‘Europe whole and free’ is being severely tested by Russia’s ongoing military aggression in Ukraine. The Ukrainian people deserve our admiration and support in their struggle.”
The platform committee member who had added that language said after learning of the change: “I was troubled when they put aside my amendment and then watered it down. I said, ‘What is your problem with a country that wants to remain free?’ It seems like a simple thing.”,
Strangely no one seemed to connect the change in the language to Manafort running the campaign. By the middle of August 2016 Manafort was out. People looking at his background begun to question his role in the campaign. Two Republican congressmen spoke out: Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin said “I want to know what money he got from a pro-Russian organization in the Ukraine; ” Rep. Adam Kinzinger stated,”I think Donald Trump ought to really investigate this and where his chief adviser, what his association with the Russians are.”
Few would believe the extent to which Manafort was up to his ears in conspiring with the Russians. We have learned from his lawyers filing in federal court that Manafort had shared campaign polling information with Konstantin Kilimnik, a suspected Russian intelligence agent Manafort had shared campaign polling information with Konstantin Kilimnik, a suspected Russian intelligence agent. He has also been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and is now in Moscow.
Back in February 2017 Manafort was asked about his connections with Russians during the campaign. He responded: “I had no contact knowingly with Russian intelligence officials,” Manafort said, according to NBC News. “I don’t think it’s possible I could have even inadvertently had discussions with Russian officials. It’s not like they wear badges. The story is not true.” Later saying in response to the charge that he was in contact with Russians known to U.S. intelligence officials, “That is 100% not true, at least as far as me.”
We know that Russian was interfering in the 2016 campaign on behalf of Trump. Now we find out that Manafort was proving campaign data to them. Why was he doing that?
Of course Manafort is being cute when he says he had no discussions with Russian officials. Kilimnik is a Ukrainian but he is known as having “ties to a Russian intelligence service.” Manafort certainly knew that because he had been associated and working with him for over ten years.
When Manafort gave the poling information to Kilimnik he told him to pass it on to two Ukrainian oligarchs, Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov, These are Ukrainians that work closely with Russia. Lyovochkin justified Putin’s seizure of Crimea stating: “Putin was betrayed by our irresponsible leaders too many times, until he stopped taking Ukraine seriously” It is said of Rinat Akhmetov that he “had been leading supporters of Yanukovych and his party, and since his departure they have hedged their bets between Kyiv and Moscow. Their recent losses have resulted partly from a redistribution of their wealth to other oligarchs.”
Why would they be interested in Republican polling data if not to pass it on to the Russian military that had launched a cyber warfare campaign to help Donald Trump get elected. Which brings me back to the beginning where I wonder why Trump hired Manafort. Was it to use him as a conduit to Putin?
Looking at these matters I must admit I was very surprised to read this: “From 2011 to 2013 with liaison to Lyovochkin, Alan Friedman, Eckart Sager, who was a one time CNN producer, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, and Manafort’s senior aide Konstantin Kilimnik devised a strategy to discredit Yulia Tymoshenko along with Hillary Clinton. This effort supported the pro-Russia administration of then President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions, especially during the parliamentary elections during the fall of 2012.” (My emphasis).
Perhaps here is even better mystery than that which with I started out with: Why back in 2011 to 2013 were a group including a Ukrainian oligarch with Russian connections devising a strategy along with Paul Manafort and others to discredit Hillary Clinton? Did the plan for Trump’s candidacy start that far back with the active assistance of these Russian connected people?