Newly uncovered business records reveal that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort began plotting as early as 2004 how Russia could help "spin" foreign political events and elections.
The Associated Press reported on Monday that it had obtained internal memos and other records showing Manafort's firm had help "formulating pro-Russia political strategy" from Konstantin Kilimnik, who is described as a Russian-born "fixer" and translator.
Both Manafor and Kilimnik have been accused by special counsel Robert Mueller of trying to tamper with witnesses in the Russia investigation.
The AP notes:
More than a decade before Russia was accused of surreptitiously trying to tilt the presidential election toward Trump, Manafort and Kilimnik pondered the risks to Russia if the country did not hone its efforts to influence global politics, the records show.
"The West is just a little more skillful at playing the modern game, where perception by the world public opinion and the spin is more important than what is actually going on," Kilimnik wrote to Manafort in a December 2004 memo analyzing Russia's bungled efforts to manipulate political events in former Soviet states. "Russia is ultimately going to lose if they do not learn how to play this game."
Kilimnik — who special counsel Robert Mueller believes is currently in Russia and has ties to Russian intelligence — helped formulate Manafort's pitches to clients in Russia and Ukraine, according to the records. Among Manafort's clients were Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and other mega-wealthy Russians with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to the report, Kilimnik began his work for Manafort in secret, even though he was still employed by the U.S. government-funded International Republican Institute.
Read the entire report here.