This reads like some kind of international thriller.
Back in August 2016, Paul Manafort was forced to resign as campaign manager to the Trump presidential campaign, because, in his words, he was becoming a “distraction.”
Manafort’s alleged involvement with the Ukrainian government was being scrutinized by media, and it added to the intrigue of those who felt the Trump campaign to be heavily influenced by the Kremlin, or at least, friends of Russia.
Currently, Manafort is facing an investigation by the FBI for receiving millions of dollars in payments, allegedly, while working as a political strategist for the Russian-backed president of the Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych.
To rewind and set the stage, back in the winter of 2013 peaceful protesters arrived at Kiev’s central square to protest Yanukovych’s sudden withdrawal from a trade deal with the European Union, due to the influence of the Kremlin.
The Ukrainian authorities now say Yanukovych created conditions that allowed for nearly 100 people to be killed by security forces.
He fled to Russia in February 2014.
So what does any of this have to do with Manafort, outside of his being linked to Yanukovych as a strategist?
While he’s not being charged by authorities with having anything to do with the unrest, his name has come up in other areas.
Namely, his daughter, Andrea’s phone was hacked, and over 300,000 text messages from a hacker site were obtained last month, pointing to the possible influence Manafort had in the Ukraine at that time.
Some of the texts to her sister, Jessica, read:
“You know he has killed people in Ukraine? Knowingly,” Andrea Manafort allegedly wrote of her father in March 2015 in an angry series of texts to her sister, Jessica, about her father’s personal and professional life.
“Remember when there were all those deaths taking place. A while back. About a year ago. Revolts and what not,” reads another text in reference to the bloodshed in Kiev.
“Do you know whose strategy that was to cause that, to send those people out and get them slaughtered.”
“He has no moral or legal compass,” Andrea allegedly wrote about her father earlier as part of the same conversation.
There’s some Daddy-daughter dysfunction going on, there.
Now, a human rights lawyer, Eugenia Zakrevska, has filed a motion in Kiev, asking that the text messages be verified, and that U.S. authorities question Manafort.
She’s not suggesting that Manafort directly influenced the actions of the Kiev police force that led to the deaths of citizens.
Earlier texts, however, suggest that Manafort was with his daughter on February 20, which was the day of the worst of the violence, when around 50 people were killed.
“I call on Mr. Manafort to clarify the allegations contained in the text messages and to contact us with any information he may have on those events,” Zakrevska told CNN.
Zakrevska said all of the killings would have already taken place by the time Manafort met his daughter the evening of the 20th, if the texts’ timestamps are accurate, and she thought it was unlikely that Andrea actually witnessed Paul Manafort personally directing Kiev police forces.
“But this doesn’t rule out Manafort’s influence on Yanukovych’s actions and decisions during that period,” Zakrevska said.
No decision has been made, yet, but after receiving Zakrevska’s request, Serhiy Gorbatyuk, Ukraine’s prosecutor for special investigations has said that they will examine the text messages, and if verified authentic, they could possibly be taken into evidence.
The hacked texts from Manafort’s daughter go on:
In the same 2015 conversation with her sister, Andrea allegedly suggests to Jessica that their father used covert methods to send messages to Ukraine.
“I was there when it happened. I saw him on his shady email,” she allegedly wrote. “They don’t write emails. They log on and write in the drafts So it’s never transmitted over any servers.”
In another alleged exchange with Jessica, in June 2016, Andrea plays down her father’s involvement in the hacks of the Democratic Party emails.
“Pretty crazy about all the email hacking huh?” the texts read. “Dad must be over the moon.”
“Oh i saw.” is the reply. “The russians.”
“Well it wasn’t dad’s doing. It was hackers,” Andrea allegedly writes back. “No clue who the hackers were. Fbi is looking into it.”
Well it wasn’t Dad’s doing?
I don’t know that anybody accused Paul Manafort of being behind the hacks and then the subsequent leaks of Democrat emails during the election, but that’s just a really odd thing to say.
Ultimately, the FBI and Homeland Security determined that Russia was behind the hack of the Democrat emails, although the purpose is still open for speculation.