A Russia oligarch identified by the Associated Press as a connection between President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman and Vladimir Putin has offered to testify before the U.S. Congress.
The aluminum magnate and Putin ally Oleg Deripaska reportedly paid Manafort $10 million starting in 2006 to develop a confidential plan to promote Kremlin interests through U.S. media, and the pair maintained a business relationship until at least 2009.
Deripaska took out a quarter-page ad Tuesday morning in the Wall Street Journal denying the the AP reports and threatening to sue other outlets that reported them, while also offering to testify as part of the congressional probe of possible Trump-Russia collusion.
“I want to resolutely deny this malicious assertion and lie,” Derispaka said in the statement. “I have never made any commitments or contracts with the obligation or purpose to covertly promote or advance ‘Putin’s Government’ interests anywhere in the world.”
He suggested any media outlets that published the AP’s claims would bear “the cost and burden of ultimate legal responsibility.”
“Misleading stories like this one create a defamatory news flow and generate background information based on complete lies,” Derispaka said. “I demand that any and all further dissemination of these allegations, by the AP or any other media outlet, must cease immediately.”
A spokeswoman told the Washington Post that the AP stood by its reporting, and she said Derispaka had not made a formal retraction or correction request.
The witness list grows: Deripaska, Russian oligarch and one time Manafort business partner, offers to testify pic.twitter.com/qGqH33g5fg
— Michael Isikoff (@Isikoff) March 28, 2017