Special counsel Robert Mueller met with Donald Trump’s top pollster back in February 2018, CNN has revealed.
Tony Fabrizio was the top pollster during Trump’s presidential campaign. He is also a former business associate of Trump’s former campaign chief Paul Manafort and is believed to have worked with Manafort on his previous projects in Ukraine.
Mueller’s meeting with Fabrizio has not previously been reported, but CNN claims he was spotted leaving the special counsel’s office by their reporters back in February of last year. At that time, it is believed that Mueller and his team were looking into Manafort’s personal finances and previous political work.
The meeting with Fabrizio takes on new significance after it was inadvertently revealed by Manafort’s attorneys on Tuesday that Mueller was looking into how he shared polling data from the Trump campaign with a colleague who has links to Russian intelligence.
In a filing they posted on Tuesday, his legal team tried to redact the fact that prosecutors knew Manafort had shared polling data from the 2016 presidential campaign with Konstantin Kilimnik at the same time as he was running Trump’s presidential campaign. However, a formatting error with the file meant that the information was visible.
Earlier this week, CNN suggested that this data was intended to be passed to Ukranian oligarchs Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov, both of whom had worked with Manafort previously.
The reason that Mueller’s meeting with Fabrizio could be important is that he is one of the few people who were at the center of both the presidential campaign and Manafort’s previous political projects.
A source close to the Mueller inquiry told CNN that the focus of Fabrizio’s interview was on his work in Ukraine rather than on the Trump presidential bid. It was suggested that they believed these might be related to alleged collusion between Russian government agents and the Trump campaign.
Fabrizio is a longtime pollster with a Florida-based organization who have worked with a number of high-profile Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Florida Senator and former Governor Rick Scott, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, and Donald Trump.
Yesterday, President Trump denied that he had any knowledge of Manafort’s actions.
“No. I didn’t know anything about it. Nothing about it,” he said to reporters at the White House before flying to Texas to visit the border.
It remains to be seen whether the Mueller inquiry has uncovered any evidence to the contrary.