Gabbay: Manafort's Israeli 'conspirator' must be investigated

Manafort “coordinated with a senior Israeli government official” to publicize the story, Mueller charged.

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September 16, 2018 19:54
2 minute read.
Avi Gabbay, the leader of Israel's centre-left Labour party, delivers his victory speech after winni

Avi Gabbay, the leader of Israel's centre-left Labour party, delivers his victory speech after winning the Labour party primary runoff, at an event in Tel Aviv, Israel July 10, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Zionist Union Party leader Avi Gabbay and former Meretz Party leader Zehava Gal-On sent letters on Sunday requesting that Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit probe which Israeli worked with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and whether they acted illegally.

Gabbay’s letter was also sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials regarding whether a top Israeli official played a part in machinations of Manafort.

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On Friday, Manafort cut a plea-deal regarding corruption charges, including revealing the new Israel angle.

Gal-On’s letter, sent by activist lawyer Itay Mack, said that whichever Israeli coordinated planting media stories in 2012 to attack pro-EU Ukrainians as antisemitic – to boost pro-Russian Ukrainians with the Obama administration – may have acted illegally.

More specifically, the letter said that since Israel’s official policy at the time was to ignore a number of antisemitic trends going on in Ukraine, making a push to highlight a questionable story about antisemitism on the pro-EU Ukrainian side seemed to contradict state policy.

The letter, like a range of recent news stories, cited Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman as the likely senior Israeli official based on a post he made at the time which appeared to be identical to the statement described in the indictment against Manafort.

Liberman has denied that he had any contact with Manafort, and allies of his have said that anything that he or others said at the time should be seen in the context of speaking out against a worrying rise in antisemitic comments in the public sphere at the time.

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Mandelblit’s office was still weighing the issue at press time.

The Foreign Ministry declined to respond.

According to the indictment filed as part of the plea deal, Manafort tried to use misleading charges of antisemitism against a senior Obama administration official, reportedly then secretary of state Hillary Clinton, to pressure Obama to go soft on his Ukrainian client, Viktor Yanukovych.

Manafort faced charges for lobbying law violations in a second trial that was close to starting, and was already convicted on several counts of federal bank and tax fraud brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in an earlier trial.

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.”

Manafort then fed claims to Obama officials that Yanukovych was working to quell the crisis, hoping to ingratiate him with the administration.

The former campaign chairman’s plea deal has also fed speculation about whether he will provide additional evidence against Trump himself in the ongoing investigation.

Michael Wilner contributed to this story.

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