Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pitched an ambitious plan to help Russia influence American politics last decade.
The Associated Press reports that Manafort in 2005 “proposed in a confidential strategy plan… that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse.”
“We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Manafort wrote in a 2005 memo.
Manafort made his pitch to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian aluminum magnate who is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Manafort eventually signed a contract with Deripaska that paid him an annual value of $10 million, and the two men maintained a business relationship through “at least” 2009, the AP reports.
In a statement to the AP, Manafort admitted working for Deripaska, but denied that his work undermined American security interests.
“I worked with Oleg Deripaska almost a decade ago representing him on business and personal matters in countries where he had investments,” Manafort said. “My work for Mr. Deripaska did not involve representing Russian political interests.”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tried to downplay Manafort’s role in the Trump campaign, and he claimed that Manafort played a “very limited” part in the campaign despite being the official campaign chairman for four months.