Manafort Offered “Private Briefings” on Trump’s Campaign to Russian Oligarchs

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

We spent a significant portion of the 2016 election cycle talking about email, but we were clearly talking about the wrong person's email.

The Washington Post reported last night that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort offered to give private briefings on the status of the 2016 election to a Russian oligarch that Manafort owed $19 million to.

Paul Manafort made the offer in an email to an overseas intermediary, asking that a message be sent to Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with whom Manafort had done business in the past, these people said.

“If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” Manafort wrote in the July 7, 2016, email, portions of which were read to The Washington Post along with other Manafort correspondence from that time.

The emails are among tens of thousands of documents that have been turned over to congressional investigators and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team as they probe whether Trump associates coordinated with Russia as part of Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.

I wouldn't say this is a funny story, but I did laugh at this part:

People close to Manafort told The Post that he and [Manafort associate Konstantin Kilimnik] used coded language as a precaution because they were transmitting sensitive information internationally.

Kilimnik wrote in the July 29 email that he had met that day with the person “who gave you the biggest black caviar jar several years ago,” according to the people familiar with the exchange. Kilimnik said it would take some time to discuss the “long caviar story,” and the two agreed to meet in New York.

Investigators believe that the reference to the pricey Russian luxury item may have been a reference to Manafort’s past lucrative relationship with Deripaska, according to people familiar with the probe.

No shit?

Look, I don't necessarily have a recommendation for appropriate code words, but "caviar" seems like a very poor choice. Only rich scumbags would use "caviar" as a code word for money or illegal goods. It's cartoonish.

Given the enormous amount of pressure being levied against Manafort in the press, I can't even imagine what investigators have on him that hasn't been shared with the public.

It's an open question why a Russian oligarch would even want private briefings on the status of Trump's campaign, or why Manafort would offer to provide them, but we can guess.

  • ninjaf

    Any bets on whether or not Manafort leaves to go help his new Kurdish clients with their referendum and never comes back; his plane just mysteriously gets diverted to Russia?

    • Scopedog

      …Or his jet crashes because of some kind of “malfunction”.

  • Aynwrong

    All of this was essentially known throughout the campaign. Not in the full detail that has emerged since election day but none of this is surprising. The organization crime relationships, the fact that Trump was indebted to the Russian government and of course, Trump’s unbridled adoration of Vladimir Putin was all right there in the open staring us in the face. Yet 62 million R’s chose to vote for him anyway and the GOP has enabled him from day one. I genuinely hope this all goes at least full Watergate and Trump is driven from office. Truthfully though, I hope it goes so much farther than that.

    People on the left and in the media who chose to pump the “Hillary just as bad” meme should forever live in shame.

    • Scopedog

      An don’t forget the media that was more obsessed with Hillary’s emails…even though they were sitting on top of this story.

      And I agree–the “Hillary is just as bad” folks can go straight to hell. Fuck them–they helped to unleash this on us, and this must be hung around their necks like a stinking albatross.

  • Badgerite

    Almost like he was briefing an important campaign ‘contributor’ or something. These people are so guilty.
    John Lewis was right. The trumpenfuhrer is not legitimate.

  • Aynwrong
  • Username1016

    It just slays me that all of this stuff has apparently been going on for years: the money laundering, the shady real estate deals, the cozy relationships with dictators, the Mafia connections, the grand-scale corruption. And it’s only now being investigated? (Or do we just not ordinarily hear about the investigations?) It’s like Mueller has one end of a big nasty slimy rope that goes way down deep into the swamp, and he’s hauling more and more and more of it up, and who knows what’s attached to the other end???

    I want to see some people going to JAIL. But I also want to see new laws coming out of this. Didn’t they tighten the ethics and corruption laws after Watergate? We need to do that again, only a whole lot more so 😛

    • JMAshby

      We have many laws that are barely enforced if they are at all. For example, you’re required to register as a foreign agent if you’re lobbying for a foreign entity or government, but those who don’t are almost never punished.

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  • muselet

    Paul Manafort offered to give briefings on the 2016 election to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch he owed $19 million to.

    No, there’s nothing questionable or unseemly about that. Who among us hasn’t on occasion offered inside information to someone who’s a favorite of Vladimir Putin and to whom we owe a metric shit-ton of money?

    I say again, Paul Manafort is toast.