Manafort made the offer to Russian aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska in an email sent to an intermediary on July 7, 2016, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, just two weeks before Trump accepted the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.
“If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” a portion of the correspondence made available to the Post reads.
Manafort then requests that the opportunity be passed on to Deripaska, whom he referred to as “OVD.”
According to documents published by WikiLeaks, Deripaska is referred to as a “permanent fixture” on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s trips abroad and “among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis.”
Classified US embassy cable: Paul Manafort contact Oleg Deripaska is "among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis." pic.twitter.com/7D5ayBfybW— Defend Assange Campaign (@DefendAssange) September 20, 2017
The email surfaced in the trove of documents handed over to the congressional team under the authority of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether associates of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election outcome.
While it is unknown whether the oligarch even acknowledged Manafort’s offer, the email is of keen interest to investigators who believe that it is evidence that the former Trump campaign chair hoped to profit from his involvement by creating space for Russian interests.
Manafort’s spokesperson, Jason Maloni, however, denied that the briefings had taken place and dismissed the email exchanges as a strictly business-related attempt to collect fees.
According to the Post, it’s true that many of the emails are related to business dealings and money owed by European clients.
Prior to his involvement with the Trump campaign, Manafort worked as a consultant for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. He resigned from his position within the Trump campaign just days after the New York Times reported on Manafort’s lobbying and advisory work in the eastern European country between 2007 and 2012. These business dealings and financial transactions that brought the former chairman to the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Manafort is currently working for allies of the Iraqi Kurdish leadership, promoting a referendum for Kurdish independence from Iraq. This campaign, like his previous work in Ukraine, runs in opposition to the federal government’s foreign policy position on the matter.