Special Counsel Robert Mueller had yet another win in court Wednesday when Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Paul Manafort, the president’s former lawyer, lied to the investigators and thus breached the terms of his cooperation agreement.
One of the lies Jackson concluded Manafort told was about his meetings with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian political consultant believed to have ties to Russian intelligence. At one of the key meetings in question in August 2016, Manafort provided Kilimnik with Trump campaign polling data. In a recent transcript of a hearing on whether or not Manafort lied about the meeting, the ex-campaign chair’s lawyers noted that the campaign data was highly complex and detailed.
“Here you have the campaign chairman,” said CNN legal analyst Toobin Wednesday night, “not some flunky, we’re not talking about the coffee boy — giving someone who is close to Russian intelligence something that is gold, the most expensively produced product of the Trump campaign: private polling. Which they can use to — social media… And that is closing the circle, potentially, between the Trump campaign and Russian interests, which is collusion.”
Toobin was referring to Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, in part through social media campaigns. Mueller has already charged a group of Russian agents with committing federal crimes as a part of these efforts.
Jim Schultz, a lawyer who used to work for the Trump White House, tried to downplay the significance of the development on CNN by saying that campaigns give out polling data all the time, particularly to the media. He acknowledged, of course, that they don’t usually give it to Russian operatives. But Manafort’s lawyer’s comments suggest that is totally wrong — this wasn’t some press release showing positive, topline numbers for the Trump campaign; it was intricate, complex information that could potentially be useful in coordinating targeted advertising efforts.
Watch the clip below:
CNN Chief Legal Analyst @Jeffreytoobin says Paul Manafort giving private polling data to someone close to Russian intelligence could potentially close the circle between the Trump campaign and Russian interests, “which is collusion.” https://t.co/3ctC97LZCA pic.twitter.com/xwMxjdEr2y# p #7_9 # ad skipped = true #
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) February 14, 2019# p #8_9 # ad skipped = true #