President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort has made headlines again after an alleged cyber attack appears to prove that he has been compromised by Ukrainian or Russian blackmail. Newly released text messages sent to Manafort’s daughter indicate that the Trump campaign was being blackmailed by multiple sources that all likely are directed from the Kremlin..
Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager from March to August 2016, when he was forced to resign after his affiliation to Ukrainian dictator Viktor Yanukovych, who was the autocratic puppet of Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin, were subjected to public scrutiny.
Manafort worked as a political consult in the Ukraine for Yanukovych’s government before it was overthrown by pro-democracy protestors in 2014; Yanukovych fled to Russia where he was warmly welcomed by the Kremlin. During Manafort’s time working on the campaign trail, Trump publicly praised Putin and his dictatorial style of governing.
Manafort faced accusations of allowing Russian influence to infiltrate Trump’s campaign and was immediately removed from the campaign team. Since his departure more and more evidence is mounting that Trump’s White House – and perhaps Trump himself – is compromised by Russian influence. This culminated with a New York Times article in February that found that high-level Trump aides were in regular contact with Russian intelligence agents over the course of 2016.
Now the scandal grows as text messages sent to Manafort’s daughter have been newly revealed.
The poorly written messages claim that the sender has information proving Manafort’s involvement with the Trump scandal. The sender says that there is proof Manafort arranged meetings between Trump and Ukrainian officials as far back as 2012 and threatens to send evidence to the FBI, Ukrainian anti-corruption officials, and the media if Manafort does not respond immediately. There is also a mysterious reference to money that Manafort received.
Manafort has confirmed that these text messages are authentic and were received by his daughter.
The text from the messages reads:
“I need to get in touch with Paul i need to share some important information with him regarding ukraine investigation”
“I actually have proofs that he received money…If i dont get any reply from you iam gonaa pass it on to the fbi and ukrainian authorities including media…As soon as he comes back to me i will pass you documents.”
“[There are] bulletproof facts regarding the person — Ukraine resident whos signature is inside the Yanukovich accounting book and who was responsible for rendering assets to you personally for your consulting services during organized meetings.”
“One of such meeting with Donadl Trump took place on 06.17.2012 with close Yanukovich affiliate — governor of Cherkassy — Mr. S. Tulub”
“Considering all the facts and evidence that are in my possession, and before possible decision whether to pass this to [the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine] or FBI I would like to get your opinion on this and maybe your way to work things out that will persuade me to do otherwise.”
S. Tulub refers to close Yanukovych ally Serhiy Tulub, which is how the trail potentially leads back to Moscow.
There is speculation that the texts were sent by Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian journalist and Member of Parliament, although Leshchenko denies the allegations. Being unused to English or the Latin alphabet (Ukrainian uses a Cyrillic script) would explain the many typos.
Regardless of who sent the messages, this is strong evidence (although not foolproof) that Manafort’s involvement in the Trump campaign is as sinister as we predicted over the summer. It is not a far stretch to think that Manafort’s ties with one of Putin’s favorite dictators have had a lasting impact on Trump and his staff. The depths of the Russia scandal are becoming ever murkier.