In the days after President Trump took office, Paul Manafort allegedly guided the administration on how to undermine and thwart the FBI probe into Russia’s election interference in the 2016 campaign, Vox reported Friday.
Citing government records and “interviews with individuals familiar with the matter,” Vox reported that the former Trump campaign chairman was providing this advice while both he and the White House knew Manafort was personally under FBI investigation. Contact between the two parties continued through this year, according to court filings from special counsel Robert Mueller.
Mueller has alleged that Manafort violated his cooperation agreement by lying in their interviews about an array of subjects, including his ongoing contacts with the Trump administration.
Per Vox, the advice that Manafort offered closely aligned with the attack lines that Trump and his backers ended up adopting.
A “person familiar with the advice” told Vox that Manafort instructed the President to aggressively attack the legitimacy of the FBI, the Justice Department and the Steele dossier.
The White House also “adopted” Manafort’s recommendation to allege that Ukraine’s government colluded with the Democratic National Committee to try to boost Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, “a source with direct knowledge of the matter” told Vox.
This close messaging coordination continued even after Manafort agreed to cooperate with Mueller this September. According to the special counsel, Manafort’s defense attorneys were secretly providing details of the cooperation to the president’s legal team.