According to a report by David Corn at Mother Jones, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was enlisted by a Russian billionaire to help him get a U.S. visa in 2000 despite FBI objections.
Wednesday morning the Associated Press reported 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.”
According to that report, Manafort pitched his plan to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian aluminum magnate closely allied with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
However, it appears that Manafort’s relationship with Deripaska goes back even further when the billionaire ran into resistance when he wanted a U.S. visa.
According to Corn, Deripaska hired former Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) who was working with the lobbying firm of Alston & Bird to press the State Department to allow the Russian into the U.S. After gaining approval, Deripaska delivered lectures at Harvard University and at a DC think tank, but was once again banned after an interview with the FBI during his visit.
According to Mother Jones’s sources, Deripaska turned to Manafort who helped him line up a public relations firm tasked with helping create positive press for the billionaire.
In 2006, he was allowed back into the country to speak, once again, with FBI investigators, only to have his visa revoked due to concerns,”about the accuracy of statements he made in a meeting with the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” reported the Wall Street Journal.
Manafort is currently the subject of an FBI investigation into his many financial ties to the Russians, including during the brief time when he served as President Donald Trump’s campaign manager.