Mueller doc­u­ments: Manafort pushed Ukraine hack the­ory

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Second Front -

WASH­ING­TON — Newly re­leased doc­u­ments show a Trump cam­paign of­fi­cial told the FBI that dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial race the cam­paign’s chair­man, Paul Manafort, pushed the idea that Ukraine, not Rus­sia, was be­hind the hack of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee’s servers.

That un­sub­stan­ti­ated the­ory was ad­vanced by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump even af­ter he took of­fice, and it would later help trig­ger the im­peach­ment in­quiry now con­sum­ing the White House.

Notes from an FBI in­ter­view were re­leased Satur­day af­ter a law­suit by Buz­zFeed News that led to pub­lic ac­cess to hun­dreds of pages of doc­u­ments from spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

In­for­ma­tion re­lated to Ukraine has taken on re­newed in­ter­est af­ter calls for im­peach­ment based on ef­forts by Trump and his ad­min­is­tra­tion to pres­sure Ukraine to in­ves­ti­gate Demo­crat Joe Bi­den. Trump, when speak­ing with Ukraine’s new pres­i­dent in July, asked about the server in the same phone call in which he pushed for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Bi­den.

Manafort spec­u­lated about Ukraine’s re­spon­si­bil­ity as the cam­paign sought to cap­i­tal­ize on DNC email dis­clo­sures and as as­so­ciates dis­cussed how they could get hold of the ma­te­rial them­selves, deputy cam­paign chair­man Rick Gates told in­ves­ti­ga­tors, ac­cord­ing to the notes.

Gates said Manafort’s as­ser­tion that Ukraine might have done it echoed the po­si­tion of Kon­stantin Kil­imnik, a Manafort busi­ness as­so­ciate who had also spec­u­lated that the hack could have been car­ried out by Rus­sian op­er­a­tives in Ukraine. U.S. au­thor­i­ties have as­sessed that Kil­imnik, who was also charged in Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, has ties to Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence.

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