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Wed Sep 25, 2019, 10:55 PM

Trump was looking for a pretext & political cover to pardon Manafort: The Ukraine Scheme

Trump, Giuliani, and Manafort: The Ukraine Scheme

The effort by President Trump to pressure the government of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son had its origins in an earlier endeavor to obtain information that might provide a pretext and political cover for the president to pardon his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, according to previously undisclosed records.

These records indicate that attorneys representing Trump and Manafort respectively had at least nine conversations relating to this effort, beginning in the early days of the Trump administration, and lasting until as recently as May of this year. Through these deliberations carried on by his attorneys, Manafort exhorted the White House to press Ukrainian officials to investigate and discredit individuals, both in the US and in Ukraine, who he believed had published damning information about his political consulting work in the Ukraine. A person who participated in the joint defense agreement between President Trump and others under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, including Manafort, allowed me to review extensive handwritten notes that memorialized conversations relating to Manafort and Ukraine between Manafortís and Trumpís legal teams, including Trumpís personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

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New information in this story suggests that these two, seemingly unrelated scandals, in which the House will judge whether the presidentís conduct in each case constituted extra-legal and extra-constitutional abuses of presidential power, are in fact inextricably linked: the Ukrainian initiative appears to have begun in service of formulating a rationale by which the president could pardon Manafort, as part of an effort to undermine the special counselís investigation.

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The records I have reviewed also indicate that on at least three occasions, Rudy Giuliani was in communication with Manafortís legal team to discuss how the White House was pushing a narrative that the Democratic National Committee, Democratic donors, and Ukrainian government officials had ďcolludedĒ to defeat Donald Trumpís 2016 presidential bid. (This story has since been debunked as baseless, though that has not prevented Trump, Giuliani, and other surrogates in conservative media from repeatedly pushing the story.)

In particular, the records show that Manafortís camp provided Giuliani with information designed to smear two people: one was a Ukrainian journalist and political activist named Serhiy Leshchenko, whom Manafort believed, correctly, of helping to uncover Manafortís secret payments from Yanukovych; another was Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American political consultant and US citizen, whom Manafort suspected, mistakenly in this case, was also behind the exposť. The records also show that Giuliani and attorneys for Manafort exchanged information about the then US ambassador to the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who Giuliani believed had attempted to undercut his covert Ukrainian diplomacy and fact-finding; the records are unclear as to whether it was Giuliani or Manafortís attorney who first initiated their discussion about her.

More: https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2019/09/25/trump-giuliani-and-manafort-the-ukraine-scheme/



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