Court documents previously filed under seal with the government’s sentencing recommendations for Paul Manafort were made public on Friday.
The documents include a months-long text exchange between Manafort and a “Sean” who appears to be Fox News host Sean Hannity.
The texts show Manafort apparently complimenting Hannity on his coverage, with the Fox host telling Manafort to stay strong throughout the early stages of the Mueller investigation.
“I appreciate what you tried to do,” Manafort wrote in one August 2017 message.
“Mueller is trying to intimidate me,” he wrote. “The raid is just one example.”
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said in an order that the exhibit was initially redacted due to privacy concerns.
In one late November 2017 exchange, Manafort appears to express interest in working on Trump’s 2020 campaign.
“Plus i plan on helping on the re elect !” he wrote.
Hannity tweeted out a statement on the exchanges after they were unsealed.
My view of the Special Counsel investigation and the treatment of Paul Manafort were made clear every day to anyone who listens to my radio show or watches my TV show.
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) June 21, 2019
In the text exchanges, Hannity repeatedly pleaded with Manafort that he should appear on the Fox News host’s show. Manafort complained about the constraints imposed on him by the gag order in his case, but according to the exchanges, Manafort’s attorney Kevin Downing sought to provide Hannity with information on “what we are doing and how it connects to your reporting.”
Hannity reported back to Manafort that an apparent January 2018 call with Downing went well and said that he asked Downing to “feed me everyday.”
In one March 2018 exchange, Manafort appears to offer a source to Hannity regarding a Russian-Ukrainian associate of his in Ukraine, Konstantin Kilimnik. “You should speak with Herritage on Kilimnik,” he wrote. “She has the info from others.”
It is not clear what, or who, “Herritage” refers to.
Throughout the texts, Manafort and Hannity trade compliments, calling each other “bro” while repeatedly praising each other’s fortitude and TV skills, respectively.
“You and Stone live. Now that was great Television!” Manafort wrote in one March 2018 exchange.
In one exchange – dated January 2018 – Hannity texted Manafort “U watching.” Timestamps on the texts suggest that Manafort replied within a minute, telling Hannity “Yes I love you.”
In another October 2017 exchange, Hannity texted Manafort, “Hey u up?”
Manafort replied “Yes,” before later receiving a gushing text from the Fox News host: “Don’t let those assholes get u down. Punch back HARD.”
The texts track with many of the dramatic twists and turns of Manafort’s case, from his failure to secure bail that would allow him to leave home confinement to claims that he had ghostwritten an op-ed defending his work in Ukraine.
In February 2018, the day before his longtime business partner and co-defendant Rick Gates entered a plea deal, Manafort expressed skepticism that Gates would flip.
According to the messages, he was also optimistic that U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, who presided over Manafort’s case in Virginia, would side with him in various disputes alleging impropriety by the prosecutors.
“Ellis took it to [Mueller lawyer Michael] Dreeben from the first moment,” Manafort told Hannity, recounting a May 2018 hearing in front of Ellis.
Read the documents below: