One day after a federal judge denied former Donald Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort's request to throw out a case against him brought by Russia investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as the Inquisitr reported, Mueller had another bomb to drop on Manafort Wednesday. A newly unsealed search warrant application revealed that Manafort, who worked for and eventually ran Trump's 2016 presidential campaign from March until mid-August, owed $10 million to a Russian billionaire with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The debt revealed by the search warrant application was reported on Wednesday by the news agency Reuters, which noted in its report that a company owned by Manafort and his wife received the $10 million loan from Oleg Deripaska, a Russian metals magnate who is now under United States economic sanctions, as the Inquisitr reported last week.
Manafort was forced to quit his post atop the Trump campaign over his ties to Russia, related to political consulting work he performed for Ukrainian strongman Viktor Yanukovych. The now-ousted Yanukovych was a pro-Russian right-wing populist whose United Regions Party, NBC News reported, was backed by Russian money and whose anti-Western rhetoric is blamed for violent incidents against United States Marines. But under Manafort's guidance, Yanukovich was elected president of Ukraine.
The Mueller documents unsealed this week also reveal that it was Deripaska who pumped cash into Manafort's Ukraine political operation when the longtime Trump associate was starting his activities there in 2005, according to a New York Daily News report.
The search warrant was given the okay by a judge, and Mueller's investigators executed the search of Manafort's Virginia home in July of last year, the Washington Post reported. Mueller has since slammed Manafort with multiple indictments on a variety of fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy charges.
On June 15, at Mueller's request, a judge revoked Manafort's bail after Mueller presented evidence that the former Trump campaign chair had attempted to tamper with witnesses, sending them encrypted text messages instructing them on what they should say about Manafort to investigators. Manafort has been behind bars ever since, but is now appealing the jail order, Politico reported.
The new revelations show an even closer financial relationship between Manafort and Deripaska than has been previously known publicly. Manafort, as The Atlantic reported, was already known to owe Deripaska about $19 million over a later business arrangement that went south. When he was working for the Trump campaign, Manafort asked a Russian business associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, to explore the possibility that he could pay back Deripaska by providing "briefings" with confidential information about the campaign.
But why Manafort would believe that secret campaign briefings to the Putin-linked oligarch would be worth the equivalent of $19 million remains unclear. Kilimnik was also indicted in the witness-tamepring incident by Mueller, who has said in court documents that Kilimnik is tied to a Russian intelligence agency, according to the New York Times.
Earlier this month, Trump blamed the FBI for somehow allowing him to hire Manafort to work for his campaign, CNN reported, insisting that he would never have hired Manafort had he been told by the FBI that Manafort was under investigation.
But Trump hired Manafort in March, and the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign's Russia links did not begin until July of 2016, CNN reported.
In addition, Trump's claim of ignorance about Manafort appears hard to buy, because Trump has been acquainted with Manafort since 1980, according to a timeline compiled by the online magazine Slate.
Trump is believed to have been introduced to Manafort by Roy Cohn, the combative, mob-connected lawyer who became the young Trump's mentor and close friend. According to an investigation by Vanity Fair magazine, when Manafort opened his first political consulting firm in Washington, D.C., in 1980, with another Trump confidant, Roger Stone, as his partner, the firm's first client was none other than Donald J. Trump.