Paul Manafort made at least 18 trips to Moscow and another 19 to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev while working as a consultant for Vladimir Putin allies, oligarchs, and pro-Kremlin parties, before he joined President Donald Trump’s campaign, according to a McClatchy exclusive report Thursday, Newsmax writes.
“You can make a case that all along he… was either working principally for Moscow, or he was trying to play both sides against each other just to maximize his profits,” former Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried, who communicated with Manafort amid his work with Ukraine during former President George W. Bush’s administration, told McClatchy.
The question for Mueller’s investigation is whether Manafort used those ties with Putin and Russia to collude for President Trump’s campaign against Hillary Clinton, as McClatchy reported. The suspicions regarding Manafort came from the controversial and unsubstantiated dossier written on Trump by former MI-6 officer Christopher Steele, who “quoted an ethnic Russian close to Trump as saying Manafort had managed ‘a well-developed conspiracy of cooperation’ between the campaign and the Kremlin,” according to the report, Newsmax adds.
Manafort’s spokesman Jason Maloni rebuked the “false” collusion allegations, telling McClatchy that Manafort “never – ever – worked for the Russian government.”
“Paul Manafort did not collude with the Russian government to undermine the 2016 election. No amount of wishing and hoping by his political opponents will make this spurious allegation true.” Maloni stressed.
Both Manafort and his former associate Richard Gates were indicted on charges of conspiracy against the United States, tax fraud, and money laundering from their ties to the Ukraine.