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Manafort Reportedly Passed Trump Campaign Data To Russian Oligarch

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Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, provided polling data to a close associate during the 2016 campaign with instructions to share the information with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, according to a new report.

Manafort’s legal team accidentally revealed in a court filing on Tuesday in the special counsel’s probe that the longtime GOP consultant provided the data to his associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, during the 2016 campaign.

The New York Times followed up with more details of the hand-off, reporting that Manafort instructed Kilimnik to provide the information to Deripaska, a billionaire aluminum magnate with close ties to Vladimir Putin.

According to The Times, Manafort and Rick Gates, his former business partner and campaign deputy, provided the information in Spring 2016, around the time that Trump clinched the GOP nomination. Most of the information was public, though some included internal polling data, a source told The Times.

What remains unknown is whether Trump or others on the campaign were aware that Manafort provided Kilimnik and Deripaska with polling data.

While many Democrats on Tuesday asserted that the new revelation was strong evidence of collusion, one possibility is that Manafort was attempting to settle a multi-million dollar business dispute with Deripaska. Manafort owed Deripaska nearly $20 million at the time from a failed business venture in Ukraine.

Manafort sent Kilimnik, a former Russian military intelligence official, an email in April 2016, shortly after joining the campaign, suggesting that he sought to use his new position as leverage with Deripaska.

“How do we use to get whole?” Manafort asked Kilimnik.

In a July 7, 2016 Manafort told Kilimnik that he was willing to brief Deripaska on the Trump campaign.

“If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” Manafort wrote.

Deripaska has been something of a puzzle in the Russia probe.

He reportedly has ties to Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the dossier alleging a vast conspiracy of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government. Deripaska hired Steele’s London-based firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, in 2012 as part of a private business investigation.

Steele also sought to help Deripaska with problems he was having with the U.S. government related to his visa. The former MI6 officer lobbied Justice Department official Bruce Ohr to help alleviate Deripaska’s visa issues.

Deripaska has denied through intermediaries being a source for Steele, though he was spotted in June 2016 at an economic forum in St. Petersburg with Sergei Millian, an alleged source for the dossier.

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