Acting campaign manager and former Kremlin employee Paul Manafort sends an email to a contact in Russia, asking the contact to pass along a message to oligarch Oleg Deripaska. The message: “If he needs private briefings we can accommodate.”
The exchange is part of a massive collection of Manafort emails later obtained by Robert Mueller’s team in the Russia investigation.
Oleg Deripaska, in 2016, is the president of a Russian energy company and heads the second largest aluminum company in the world. Before the 2007-2008 financial crisis, he was the richest man in Russia. He is still a billionaire.
Deripaska obtained a U.S. visa in 2005 by paying $260,000 to Senate Republican leader Bob Dole’s law firm in exchange for the firm lobbying on his behalf. His visa was revoked in 2006 when law enforcement found reason to suspect that he was intending to invest in U.S. properties for money laundering. In 2010, the Financial Times reported that Russian mafias have financial ties to Deripaska businesses.
Later reports claim that Manafort owes Deripaska around $19 million for a failed investment. Providing private Trump campaign updates to Deripaska would act as Manafort’s payment.
Spokespeople for both Manafort and Deripaska have insisted that the private briefings never actually materialized. But if he did offer privileged campaign information “in exchange for debt cancellation,” Olson said, that would have raised several red flags for US intelligence officials.
“First, of course is his willingness to disclose confidential information for personal gain,” he said. “Second, and of more concern, is debt cancellation is much harder to track than payment. Payments leave a paper trail, debt forgiveness does not. It’s a very effective way to conceal transfer of value and is another CI flag.”
Photograph: ABC/ Ida Mae Astute