For those following the saga of former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and his (and the President's) alleged ties to Russia — the plot just got a little bit thicker. And there's even more emails in involved.
We know, we know: Politics can be quite messy. So here's a little backstory: Since Donald Trump was elected as POTUS, there has been a great deal of controversy surrounding POTUS's relationship with Russia and their involvement in the 2016 election. Back in March, congressional committees were set up to investigate the conclusion made by US intelligence agencies that Moscow attempted to sway the election in favor of Trump.
On May 18th, ex-FBI director Robert Mueller was appointed to the investigation as a special counsel after Trump sacked James Comey, the then-FBI director who confirmed the bureau had its own inquiry.
And now? Mueller has been investigating thousands of documents that have been turned over, including a sketchy email that was reportedly written by Paul Manafort, a former Trump campaign manager, to Kremlin-linked Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, offering to give Deripaska "private briefings" on the 2016 campaign, according to the Washington Post.
Manafort reportedly reached out to an intermediary for Deripaska just two weeks before Trump accepted the Republication nomination, the Washington Post reports. The email, dated July 7, to the intermediary included the statement offering"If he needs private briefings we can accommodate," according to sources with knowledge of the email.
Although there is no proof that Deripaska received the message, the implication is this— the messages by Manafort created "a potential opening for Russian interests at the highest level of a U.S. presidential campaign," reporters of the Washington Post claim, along with the implication that Manafort may have attempted to profit from his position.
It's also important to note that Deripaska is viewed as a significant ally to Vladimir Putin and, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, Deripaska is "among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis."
Putin is meeting with business leaders, including Oleg Deripaska—the day after news broke of Manafort's exchanges with the billionaire. https://t.co/kXw0AN7bdH
— Hannah Levintova (@H_Lev) September 21, 2017
Exchanges between Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik are also quite telling. Kilimnik, an employee of Manafort while he was working in Ukraine to advise a Russia-friendly political party, is Manafort's suspected intermediary to Deripaska, according to The Independent.
Manafort also allegedly believed money was owed by his past clients of his international political consulting practice in Eastern Europe, and exchanges between the two men reference "OVD" (Deripaska's initials) and "black caviar," which is believed to reference the payment.
It's no surprise that Mueller thinks something fishy is going on — and it's probably not the black caviar.