The Associated Press reported today that Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump, “secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago.” The revelation underscores the unreliability of Trump adviser Roger Stone, who has repeatedly claimed that Manafort, his longtime friend and former business partner, has “no Russian ties” and “never” worked for the Russians.
The AP reported that Manafort “secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics.” The news organization reported:
Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 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.
Manafort pitched the plans to Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort eventually signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006, according to interviews with several people familiar with payments to Manafort and business records obtained by the AP. Manafort and Deripaska maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, according to one person familiar with the work.
In a statement to the AP, Manafort confirmed that he worked for Deripaska in various countries but said the work was being unfairly cast as “inappropriate or nefarious” as part of a “smear campaign.”
“I worked with Oleg Deripaska almost a decade ago representing him on business and personal matters in countries where he had investments,” Manafort said. “My work for Mr. Deripaska did not involve representing Russia's political interests.”
Manafort reportedly pitched plans to Deripaska in 2005 that could “benefit the Putin Government if employed” :
“We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Manafort wrote in the 2005 memo to Deripaska. The effort, Manafort wrote, “will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.”
The AP noted that its reporting about Manafort’s work “appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests.” During a recent briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer laughably attempted to minimize Manafort’s role in the Trump campaign as “very limited.”
Stone is a longtime adviser and confidant to Trump. He has a decades-long history of employing political dirty tricks and lying, and he regularly spouts violent, racist, and sexist rhetoric.
Stone worked as both a paid and unpaid adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign, and he was a partner with Manafort in the lobbying firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly during the 1980s through the mid-90s. Stone wrote in his book that he “introduced Manafort to Donald Trump at the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans.” The Washington Post reported that Manafort “was recommended for the job by Roger Stone, the longtime Trump associate who officially parted ways with the campaign last summer but remains influential.”
United States law enforcement and intelligence agencies are reportedly investigating both Stone and Manafort “as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of … Trump.”
But Stone has repeatedly claimed that Manafort has never worked for the Russians and has attempted to distance Manafort from any claims of Russian influence. (Stone has similarly claimed he has no Russian ties.)
Stone said on August 15 edition of The Alex Jones Show that Manafort “has never worked for the Ukrainian government or for the Russian government.”
Stone said on the August 18 edition of Breitbart News Daily that the claim that Manafort is in bed with Putin is a “conspiracy theory.” He made similar remarks defending Manafort during an August 18 appearance on C-SPAN.
During an August 19 appearance on The Alex Jones Show, Stone claimed that “Manafort has not worked for the government of Ukraine or Russia.”
Stone wrote an August 19 piece for his website denying that Manafort is “somehow in bed with Putin and the Russian’s when Trump has never met or communicated with Putin and Putin dislikes Manafort”:
The entire spin by the Clintonistas that Trump and Manafort are somehow in bed with Putin and the Russian’s (sic) when Trump has never met or communicated with Putin and Putin dislikes Manafort because of the latter’s pushing of [Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovych] to have Ukraine join the EU. This is the “New McCarthyism[.]” The Clinton’s (sic) and their vassals essentially accuse Trump and Manafort of treason against their own Country when in fact it’s Bill and Hillary who have profiteered in the Ukraine as well as taking millions from oligarchs and interests aligned with Putin.
(As CNN noted, “Trump has at least nine times claimed to have spoken to, met, or made contact with Putin.”)
Stone tweeted on October 31 that “@PaulManafort has NO Russian ties to investigate” and that contrary claims are “100% made up horseshit.”
— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) November 1, 2016
Stone also wrote a January 13 op-ed for The Daily Caller in which he claimed that there’s “no evidence” that Manafort was “working for the Russians”:
The persistent insistence that I knew of Russian assistance to Assange and advised Trump of it is a lie. Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and Donald Trump were working for the Russians? Please. It’s tedious and no evidence in the possession of our vaunted Intelligence Agencies proves this.