Paul Manafort attempted to use his position as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman to curry favor with an oligarch close to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
A new trove of emails details Manafort’s contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, a former business associate in Ukraine, starting at least two weeks after Trump hired him to oversee his presidential campaign, reported The Atlantic.
Excerpts from the emails had been previously reported, but the magazine was provided with the full text on the condition of anonymity, and a source close to Manafort confirmed their authenticity.
The emails were among documents turned over by lawyers for Trump’s campaign to investigators probing links to Russian efforts to influence the election.
“I assume you have shown our friends my media coverage, right?” Manafort wrote to his former associate.
“Absolutely,” Kilimnik responded. “Every article.”
“How do we use to get whole,” Manafort asks. “Has OVD operation seen?”
The Manafort source said “OVD” refers to Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska, one of Russia’s richest men — and another former Manafort associate.
Manafort represented Deripaska in Georgia and Ukraine, but their relationship soured after an investment he managed for the oligarch fell apart.
Deripaska had transferred $18.9 million to a private equity fund set up by Manafort the year before to acquire a Ukrainian telecommunications company, but he sued Manafort and his partner, Rick Gates, after they “simply disappeared” with the money.
A spokesman claims Manafort hoped to collect debt from his clients, but a spokeswoman for Deripaska dismissed as “absurd” claims that the oligarch owed money to Manafort.
The emails show Manafort, who did not take a salary from the Trump campaign, was very interested to know whether Deripaska was paying attention to his campaign work.
“Yes, I have been sending everything to Victor (a Deripaska aide), who has been forwarding the coverage directly to OVD,” Kilimnik wrote in April, referring again to Deripaska. “Frankly, the coverage has been much better than Trump’s,” Kilimnik wrote. “In any case it will hugely enhance your reputation no matter what happens.”
There’s no evidence Manafort, who left in late August due to his ties to a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, ever met with Deripaska during the campaign, but he did meet Aug. 2 with Kilimnik in New York to discuss “unpaid bills” and “current news.”