Were Russia RNC Donations Found in Manafort Notes?

By on September 2, 2017
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort tied to Russia again.

Another wrinkle has arisen in the Trump/Russia investigation this week, with news that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s notes during a meeting with operatives promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton may also have included talk of Russian campaign donations to the Republican National Committee.

According to Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskya, Manafort had his face buried in his phone during the entire meeting.

“And the other individual who was in the same meeting, but all the time he was looking at his phone. He was reading something. He never took any active part in the conversation. That was Mr. Manafort,” Veselnitskya said.

That wasn’t because Manafort was bored, though. He was reportedly taking notes about the meeting on his smartphone and handed that material over to both the House and Senate intelligence committees, as well as special Counsel Robert Mueller, as part of the ongoing probes into the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin.

According to sources familiar with the notes, the terms “RNC” and “donations” were found very close to one another in some of Manafort’s notes. If true, this would represent yet another crime being committed as a result of that meeting. Accepting help from the Russians in the form of information is a form of illegal collusion, but accepting campaign donations from a foreign power is also a criminal act. And because that meeting happened in New York, it’s possible that any subsequent charges could be brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as state crimes, which would be ineligible for a presidential pardon.

Schneiderman and Mueller are working together on this case, particularly as it pertains to Manafort. Will the threat of state felony charges that he can’t escape via pardon turn into a carrot the two can use to get Manafort to offer up something bigger?