Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort departs from US District Court in Washington, DC, February 28, 2018.
(photo credit: YURI GRIPAS/REUTERS)
Paul Manafort tried to use misleading charges of antisemitism against a senior Obama administration official to pressure the former president to go soft on his Ukrainian client, Viktor Yanukovych, in 2012, according to documents released on Friday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office.
New “superseding” criminal information was released this morning as part of a plea agreement reached between Manafort, US President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman who faced charges for lobbying law violations, and Mueller, the special prosecutor investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Manafort has already been convicted on several counts of federal bank and tax fraud brought by the special counsel.
Mueller described a scheme by Manafort to manipulate “Obama’s Jews” – in Manafort’s own words – to pressure the administration to disavow Yanukovych’s political arch-rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, by highlighting her alleged ties to antisemitic groups and spreading stories that an Obama “Cabinet official” supporting her cause was antisemitic by proxy.
Manafort “coordinated with a senior Israeli government official” to publicize the story, Mueller charged, seeking to convince the administration that “the Jewish community will take this out on Obama in the [2012 presidential] election if he does nothing.” The Israeli official is not named.
According to archived articles from the time, the cabinet official referenced in the Mueller documents appears to be then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton, and the Israeli official is likely Avigdor Liberman, then minister of foreign affairs.
Manafort then fed claims to Obama officials that Yanukovych was working to quell the crisis, hoping to ingratiate him with the administration.
Manafort’s ties to Ukraine’s pro-Russia figures, paired with his prominent role in Trump’s presidential campaign, has drawn Mueller’s attention as he investigates whether US persons coordinated with Moscow to influence the 2016 presidential race.
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