Paul Manafort’s Claims about WikiLeaks in His September 13, 2018 Interview

Paul Manafort’s September 13, 2018 interview is the only one where he is believed to tell the truth about a number of topics. It was the last one before Mueller gave him a plea deal that staved off an election season trial, leading to a period of cooperation during which Manafort substantively backed off much of what he admitted on September 13. Manafort’s lawyer, Kevin Downing, then told Rudy Giuliani what Manafort got asked.

The publicly released version includes substantive redactions regarding Roger Stone, WikiLeaks, and Jared Kushner (as well as Konstantin Kilimnik and the kickback system via which Manafort got paid). But the Senate Intelligence Committee appears to have obtained an unredacted version. So I wanted to summarize what the SSCI Report shows about WikiLeaks and Kushner. Where I can identify it, I will italicize the information that was not redacted in the BuzzFeed release. Everything else was hidden as part of an ongoing investigation in January 2, 2020 but was no longer considered sensitive when SSCI released its report (this may reflect ongoing investigative work that Bill Barr killed).

fn 539: Manafort told the FBI that, after his resignation, but before the election, he and Trump had spoken “a few times. ”

fn 540: While Manafort claimed to have not recalled the substance of these interactions, he did recall giving Trump advice on Trump’s performance in the second debate and giving Trump ideas for the third debate.

fn 542: Manafort also told the SCO that from the time he left the Campaign until the election, he met with Kushner “once or twice” and spoke to Kushner on the phone “five or six times.”

fn 543: Manafort said that both sides reached out to one another.

fn 544: According to Manafort, Donald Trump and others in his family were aware that Manafort and Kushner were in contact, and Kushner “thought it would be good” for Manafort to call Trump.

fn 547: On November 5, 2016, Manafort sent a document entitled “Securing the Victory” to at least Trump, Kushner, and Reince Priebus.[snip] While Manafort recalled in his interview with the SCO that he sent the memorandum to Trump’s executive assistant, the Trump Organization did not produce any such document as part of the Committee’s request. Because of other known deficiencies in the Trump Organization’s document responses, the Committee does not draw the conclusion that no document was sent. Not all senior individuals in the Trump Campaign engaged in substantive interactions with Manafort after his departure. For instance, while Steve Bannon was the recipient of short messages of encouragement from Manafort and responded in kind, Bannon made clear internally that he thought further interactions with Manafort would negatively impact the Campaign. In response to Priebus forwarding Manafort’s November 5, 2016 memorandum to him, Bannon responded, “We need to avoid manafort like he has a disease. Dems will say that the Russians are helping us win.” Email, Bannon to Priebus, November 5, 2016 (SKB_SSCl0000964)

fn 549: Manafort told the SCO that that he had “no information” that Russia hacked voting machines.

fn 550 Manafort also sent the memorandum to Sean Hannity, although he said he did not expect Hannity to talk to Trump about it.

fn 1444: Manafort also recalled hearing from Stone sometime in June 2016 that “a source close to WikiLeaks confirmed that WikiLeaks had the emails from Clinton’s server.”

fn 1445: Like Gates, Manafort recalled Stone telling him that the emails would be released “soon,” but Stone “did not know when.”

fn 1446: Manafort, who was not convinced that the documents were coming out, directed Gates to check in with Stone “from time to time” to see if his WikiLeaks · information remained “real and viable.”

fn 1475: Because Manafort was initially dubious that Stone had accurate information about WikiLeaks, he instructed Stone “not to tell Trump until they could. confirm it.” Manafort said that he wanted to keep Trump focused on speeches and meeting members of Congress, not distracted “by the titillation of a WikiLeaks release.”

fn 1476: In addition, Manafort believed Stone would have told Trump anyway because he ”wanted the credit for knowing in advance.”

fn 1494: Witness testimony indicates that Stone may have raised WikiLeaks again to Trump in late July, shortly before the DNC release occurred. Although Manafort did not know whether Stone and Trump spoke about WikiLeaks that week, he assumed they did.

fn 1507: On the afternoon of July 22, Manafort and Trump discussed how they could use the DNC emails relating to Debbie Wasserman Schultz

fn 1508: Although Manafort was confused by Stone’s prediction, which was that WikiLeaks had emails from “Clinton’s server,” whereas the document released that day came from the DNC, he. still used the “fact of the hack and the substance of the emails” to attack Clinton and deflect attention from Trump’s comments towards Senator Ted Cruz and Cruz’s wife. [snip] For example, Manafort sought to “draw [a] comparison to [the] fact that the Dems attack Russia for hacking them but want us to believe that the server in HC[‘s] home was safe from hacking” and that Clinton had “put national security at risk.” Email, Manafort to Spicer, Miller, Parscale, Reed, Gates, Fabrizio, and Kushner, July 24, 2016

fn 1513: Similarly, despite Manafort’s initial skepticism, after the email release on July 22, Manafort “thought that Stone had been right.”

fn 1518: Senior Campaign officials believed that the [Russia are you listening] statement was unscripted. 

fn 1523: In response [to Manafort’s reminder that Stone claimed to have access to WikiLeaks, sourced to GJ in Mueller Report], Trump directed Manafort to stay in touch with Stone to see if there were more emails coming out.

fn 1524: Manafort then spoke with Stone during the week of the Democratic National Convention. Stone was in Cleveland for the Republican National Convention, which occurred directly prior to the Democratic National Convention.

fn 1525: At the time, Stone said he did not know what else would come out or when, but he agreed to follow up, although he did not say when he would do so.

fn 1617: At the end of September, Stone privately conveyed information about a future WikiLeaks release to Trump and Manafort. Manafort, who had left the Campaign in August, recalled speaking with Stone around the first presidential debate between Trump and Clinton, which took place on September 26, 2016. 

fn 1618: Stone told Manafort that “John Podesta was going to be in the barrel” and that “there were going to be leaks of John Podesta’s emails.”

fn 1678: Manafort recalled Trump acknowledging to him that “Stone had information on the release in advance” of it becoming public.

fn 1679: Manafort spoke with Stone by phone and told Stone that Stone had been right. Stone’s cell phone records show a 17-minute call with Manafort on October 12, although they may have been in touch through other means following the Podesta release.

7 replies
  1. BobCon says:

    “fn 1518: Senior Campaign officials believed that the [Russia are you listening] statement was unscripted.”

    So if I’m reading this correctly, that piece was left unredacted but the following part was redacted — about how Gates believed Stone had told Trump about the Russian hacking, and shortly after Trump made the remark the GRU began the spearfishing attack on the Democrats.

    If I’m reading that combination of unredaction and redaction correctly, that’s really misleading.

  2. Rugger9 says:

    Another indication of the sleaze infecting the 2020 DJT campaign is about who’s paying his top officials. The FEC filings do not have top surrogate Jason Miller or Campaign Manager Bill Stepien on the campaign payroll, they’re being paid by a GOP nonprofit and a “who knows” respectively. But, at least in Jason’s case we know why, because like Joe Walsh of IL (it always seems to be GOP blowhards doing this, hmmm……) he’s trying to hide income to lowball his child support obligations to AJ Delgado with whom he had a son while Jason’s wife was having another child. So, a perfect match for DJT.

    Manafort had the same murky funding, and what we see out of the notes discovered by EW and others here is that there were “expectations” from those fronting the money out of Manafort and we’d expect the same in 2020’s campaign team. What was given away this time?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Interesting intentional campaign law violations there. As Trump often does, he seems to have had a third party pay for his own campaign’s expense directly. Normally, Trump would ignore the follow up, but those payments should accounted for and disclosed as a payment to the campaign and as a corresponding campaign expense. It would be fraud to describe the services as a gift. Interesting, too, that Miller might be defrauding his child and the family court.

      The suits, prosecutions, and penalties should be raining down like pennies from heaven. There is a large barrel of many such items: Biden really does need to put a team together to follow all those threads.

      Documentation is important, if for nothing else, as justification to keep these bozos from future government employment and/or security clearances, because each time they’re hired, it’s to do something bigger.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        Agreed completely. If Biden is elected and doesn’t open a criminal investigation of all the usual Republican scum we’ll lose our republic next time a Republican is elected president.

  3. mospeck says:

    If you were putin and gerisamov and you had (gigantic) at home troubles in Russia and Belarus, but at the same time you had a gru asset like trump, what would be your play for the American 2020?
    You abs. need to train wreck the American generals. But, it’s how to do it.. these things must be handled delicately. One guess would be using stolen voter lists to forge mail-in ballots and generate double votes by both sides. Which would go along with stooge trump’s prescient warnings about how vulnerable US mail-ins are. However that’s only one line of attack and the spooks expect for you to be multiple like back in the good old ussr/kgb days. After all when you’re going for the Ruby Slippers and the end of the west, you gotta bring it. You know, fucking around with our elections could be considered a hostile act? And some spooks might take offense and have the keys to kiloton cruises they could put on top of gru leningrad. And a personal 1 kton love letter for you, vlad.
    *valery, staggering ineptitude by your gru boys when Navalny did not die on the 4 hour flight to Moscow. He is up and about. And coming for you

  4. unendin says:

    Re fn 1508 and Manafort’s messaging ideas in the wake of DNC dump.

    Manafort led the campaign’s response, conducting three national interviews and releasing a statement on July 24, before Trump’s comments on July 25/27 stole the oxygen. In all those cases, Manafort connected the vulnerability of the DNC to that of Hillary’s server, first to blame the victim, then to make the big point that *Hillary puts America at risk.*

    Here is Manafort’s press release, for which the email was a draft:

    “Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned over her failure to secure the DNC’s email servers and the rigged system she set up with the Clinton campaign. Now Hillary Clinton should follow Wasserman Schultz’s lead and drop out over her failure to safeguard top secret, classified information both on her unauthorized home server and while traveling abroad. Wasserman Schultz’s emails only put the Democratic Party at risk, but Hillary Clinton’s emails put all of America at risk.”

    It’s funny to learn that Manafort had, in fact, expected WikiLeaks to publish Clinton emails, and, in the event, had to reverse engineer a criticism of her server’s vulnerability. Nonetheless, the message lived on. A few salient points about the evolution:

    1. It is not an “attack.” (In all cases, the Trump campaign leads with the familiar attack: Clinton and the DNC colluded to rig the primaries against Sanders.) Rather, it is a defense when people charge, as they do in the July 24 interviews, that stolen emails have a dubious place in the public sphere and foreign interference represents the greater threat to fair elections.

    2. Trump himself is generally unwilling or unable to articulate the logic himself. He simply shorthands it as the “double email situation.” Instead, it lives on in scripted speeches. Most notably, on October 3, the eve of the anticipated Podesta dump, Trump delivers a speech on “Cybersecurity,” essentially a long version of the message, as a preemptive defense.

    3. Trump does have a national rather than cyber security version of the defense and he trots it out at every critical juncture. It goes something like this: If Russia hacked the DNC, et al. to defeat Hillary, then that shows how much Putin hates her and how vulnerable she and Obama are to his wiles, hence, when you look at the big picture, *Hillary (not I, who cozies up to and will be respected by Putin) puts America at risk.*

    4. Neither Manafort nor Trump (cf. note 3) deny Kremlin responsibility for the hacking. The ‘simple denial’ defense is easier and gains favor among Trump apologists. But Trump himself, and his inner sanctum, are atuned to variants of the ‘transcendence’ defense. To wit, Stone’s first article: “Putin’s big Trump gamble” (

    So Trump, Manafort, and Stone are yelling at the top of their lungs: “Yes, because of Obama/Clinton’s weakness and naivete, Putin has taken over this election just as he did Crimea.”

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