We recently learned that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort offered to provide private briefings on the status of Trump's campaign to Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska, one of Russia's richest men.
That left us with a lot of questions. Mainly, why? Why would Manafort offer that? Why would Deripaska be interested in that? Is that the real reason Manafort joined Trump's campaign?
Emails reviewed by The Atlantic appear to show that Manafort offered to update his Russian masters on the status of the campaign in an effort to "curry favor."
The emails were provided to The Atlantic on condition of anonymity. They are part of a trove of documents turned over by lawyers for Trump’s presidential campaign to investigators looking into the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election. A source close to Manafort confirmed their authenticity. Excerpts from these emails were first reported by The Washington Post, but the full text of these exchanges, provided to The Atlantic, shows that Manafort attempted to leverage his leadership role in the Trump campaign to curry favor with a Russian oligarch close to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Manafort was deeply in debt, and did not earn a salary from the Trump campaign.
There is no evidence that Deripaska met with Manafort in 2016, or knew about Manafort’s attempts to reach him. Yet the extended correspondence between Manafort and [longtime associate Konstantin Kilimnik] paints a more complete portrait of Manafort’s willingness to trade on his campaign position.
We know Manafort worked for the Trump campaign for free. We know Manafort owed tens of millions of dollars of debt to Deripaska.
Was Manafort's position on the Trump campaign his way of paying off his debt? Is that the reason he volunteered?
We don't know, but I haven't seen a better explanation offered by anyone yet. If that is the case, it raises even more questions. What would Deripaska get out of it? Why did he want to see Trump win? What exactly was Manafort offering to do for Deripaska as Trump's campaign manager?
It's good to know special prosecutor Robert Mueller is following the money because that seems to be what this all comes back to. It comes back to debts owed, debts paid, and future money to be made perhaps with the elimination of sanctions imposed on Russian businesses and individuals following their invasion and annexation of Crimea.
How much of what we're dealing with today was set in motion by Putin's invasion of Ukraine?
The Atlantic goes into much further detail on Manafort's shady relationships.