As the rumors of Trump campaign staffers’ ties to Russia piled up in the days before inauguration, the team got a call offering advice from a rather unlikely source: former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Despite being forced out of his role because of his own ties to businessmen and politicians close to the Kremlin, Manafort called Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus to push back on the ballooning scandal, four people familiar with the conversation told Politico.
The call reportedly focused on an explosive, yet largely unverified, dossier compiled by a former British intelligence officer detailing allegedly compromising ties between Trump associates—including Manafort—and Russian officials.
“On the day that the dossier came out in the press, Paul called Reince, as a responsible ally of the president would do, and said this story about me is garbage, and a bunch of the other stuff in there seems implausible,” a person close to Manafort told Politico.
That was only one of a handful of conversations Manafort had with members of Trump’s campaign and Trump himself after leaving the campaign in August, according to the report.
The GOP operative is now one of the central figures in federal and congressional investigations into potential collusion between the Trump team and Russian operatives trying to swing the election.
According to a Wednesday New York Times report, U.S. intelligence officials intercepted communications in which Russian officials bragged about their ability to use Manafort and ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn to influence Trump during the campaign.
Manafort, who has denied any wrongdoing, appears to be cooperating with investigators. This week, he complied with the Senate Intelligence Committee’s request to turn over records detailing any Russia-related meetings, communications and real estate holdings.
A federal grand jury has also issued a subpoena for some of Manafort’s bank records.