Paul Manafort pushed Ukraine election hack conspiracy theory in 2016: New Mueller probe document dump
By Dave Goldiner
New York Daily News|
Nov 02, 2019 | 4:21 PM
Paul Manafort realized the value of the Ukraine election hacking conspiracy theory in real time.
Newly released Justice Department documents reveal that the Trump campaign chief turned imprisoned felon told aides that Ukraine, not Russia, was meddling in the election during the 2016 race, Buzzfeed News reported on Saturday.
“(Robert) Gates recalled Manafort saying the hack was likely carried out by the Ukrainians, not the Russians,” an FBI agent wrote in a summary of an interview with Gates, Manafort’s deputy who cut a plea deal and testified against his ex-boss.
A 500-page batch of the so-called “302” forms that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators filed was released after Buzzfeed won a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the DOJ.
Even though U.S. intelligence has repeatedly dismissed it, the claim that Russia was not to blame for interfering in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf has been a durable talking point among Trump supporters.
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Along with muddying the waters about the benefits that Trump gained from Russia answering his calls to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, the conspiracy theory raises the GOP-friendly possibility that it was actually Democrats who benefited from collusion with a foreign power.
The “Ukraine hack” theory gained new credence when Attorney General William Barr launched an official investigation into the “origins” of the Mueller probe which Trump suggests was launched after Democratic-sympathizing Deep State intelligence operatives concocted an elaborate frame up to blame Russia.
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The document dump also underlines the intense interest that Trump and his campaign had in the stolen Democratic National Committee emails, which they correctly believed would prove politically toxic to Clinton and Democrats.
“Gates recalled a time on the campaign aircraft when candidate Trump said, ‘Get the emails,’” one summary reads.