Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, in a new interview with Business Insider, admitted to being in contact with and sharing information with Russians during the former president’s first presidential run back in 2016.
Speculation about Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign between Trump and former first lady, senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been prevalent in the last several years, and now Paul Manafort is stating that he handed polling data directly to the Russians and in particular to “Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate with suspected ties to Russian intelligence.”
According to Insider, “Kilimnik then passed the data on to Russian spies, according to the US Treasury Department, which has characterized the data as ‘sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy.'”
Manafort excused his actions stating he wasn’t using the information to help elect Trump but rather he did it to make money. Insider says “Manafort told Insider that he directed his deputy, Rick Gates, to feed Kilimnik polling data via email to ‘keep Konstantin informed.’ The goal was to use his access to Trump to drum up business for himself.
Manafort added “The data that I shared with him was a combination of public information and stuff for the spring that was — it was old.”
The report concludes “Manafort said he had no reason to think Kilimnik was spying for Russia and pointed out that Kilimnik had been vetted and cleared by Yanukovych’s staff, stating, “None of us believed KK worked for Russian intelligence.”
Manafort’s claims in this interview directly contradict his earlier denials during the probe conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, when he “denied he had anything to do with the transfer of sensitive campaign data.” It also contradicts the account he gave in his own forthcoming memoir, “Political Prisoner,” in which he claims that he only gave Kilimnik “talking points” on polling data that had already been made public.