As with all aspects of the Russia Hoax this is complicated, so we'll need to work our way into it one step at a time.
A good place to start is with Paul Manafort. Recall that Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March, 2016--coincidentally or not, at the same time that Carter Page and George Papadopoulos were brought on board. Manafort was campaign manager for almost exactly two months (June 20 to August 19) before being abruptly fired. But the real point is that from 2003 right up to 2016 Manafort had been a "political consultant" in Ukraine.
How did Manafort's involvement in the Trump campaign actually come to pass? It turns out that that remains a bit of a mystery. As explained by Time magazine (How Donald Trump Hired and Fired Paul Manafort), the standard, Wikipedia endorsed theory, is that Manafort was recommended to Trump by a close Trump friend, Thomas Barrack, Jr. But, as Time notes,
... probe a little deeper and none of the sources familiar with the details can quite agree anymore how Trump came to decide hiring Manafort was a good idea. At least three differing and at-times-contradictory versions are offered by sources in Trump’s orbit.
There's the Barrack story, of course, but another account has it that Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, recommended Manafort to Papa Trump as someone who knew the ropes of political conventions and would be more "professional" than the upstart Corey Lewandowski, who had helped propel Trump through the primaries. And some claim that Roger Stone was the connection to Manafort.
All of these accounts--or a mix of them--are possible, of course. Nevertheless, they tend to leave one asking, Is it possible that some clever person or organization worked through these Trump associates to get Manafort a spot near the top of the Trump campaign. Consider--as Time suggests, that hiring Manafort was "a good idea" wasn't exactly self evident, in the circumstances, so how was persuading Papa Trump managed? And then that coincidence--or non-coincidence--that Manafort came on board at basically the same time that Carter Page and George Papadopoulos did seems a bit like lightening striking the same place three times. (For the view that Page and Papadopoulos may have been "lured" into the Trump campaign for the purpose of setting them up, cf. The Spy In The Trump Campaign.)
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine
No, really--there is such an organization! Not only that, but Wikipedia tells us that the FBI, in the wake of the US orchestrated coup against the newly elected Ukrainian government, was instrumental in helping Ukraine set up NABU and train its investigators. Not only that, but when NABU started operations in October, 2015--just in time for the US presidential election--Lee Stranahan reports that the FBI had an office at NABU headquarters in Kyiv that became permanent in February, 2016. All this was very bad news for Manafort, because not only were most of his clients out of power, but it appears that NABU's priorities weren't so much with corruption in Ukraine as with the US presidential election. In fact, The Hill is reporting that Ukraine's Prosecutor General, Yuriy Lutsenko, has recently launched a probe of NABU Director, Artym Sytnyk, for allegedly attempting to help Hillary Clinton during the 2016 US presidential election.
How, you ask, could Artym Sytnyk in Kyiv have helped Hillary Clinton become president of the US? As it happens, that wasn't so far fetched as it sounds. On August 14, 2016--five days before Manafort was dumped from the Trump campaign--the NYT learned from "investigators" at NABU about a "black ledger" of illegal business dealings by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. According to the NYT,
The accounting records surfaced this year, when Serhiy A. Leshchenko, a member of Parliament who said he had received a partial copy from a source he did not identify, published line items covering six months of outlays in 2012 totaling $66 million …
Lutsenko, the Prosecutor General, thinks Sytnyk at NABU was coordinating all this with Leshchenko--which makes pretty obvious sense.
Helpfully, Lee Stranahan has some follow-up questions that he thinks the NYT should be asking about Leshchenko's connections to Victor Pinchuk (a Ukrainian oligarch billionaire) and George Soros:
The New York Times should also explain why they didn’t mention that Leshchenko had direct connections to two of Hillary Clinton biggest financial backers. Victor Pinchuk, the largest donor to the Clinton Foundation at a staggering $8.6 million also happened to have paid for Leshchenko’s expenses to go to international conferences. George Soros, who also founded the International Renaissance Foundation that worked closely with Hillary Clinton’s State Department in Ukraine, also contributed at least $8 million to Hillary affiliated super PACs in the 2016 campaign cycle.
As Zerohedge says, this looks like real collusion with a foreign government--not that fake news stuff the US media and political elites have been feeding us for the past nearly three years. And the aim of this collusion was definitely to influence the outcome of a US presidential election.
Nellie Ohr Weighs In
Recall that back in October, 2015, the FBI was in Kyiv, helping our new client government in Ukraine set up NABU. As it happens, back here in the US, at about the same time, Nellie Ohr was starting her new job at Fusion GPS, working for Glenn Simpson and with Christopher Steele of "dossier" fame. Just this past October HPSCI had some questions for Nellie, and at least some of those questions pertained to Serhiy Leshchenko and his relationship with Fusion GPS. Nellie confirmed that, yes, Leshchenko did have a relationship with Fusion GPS, the Clinton opposition research firm. The full transcript of Nellie's testimony has not yet been released, but Chuck Ross has had a look at it. In his account we read the following summary:
Nellie Ohr, a former contractor for the Washington, D.C.-based Fusion GPS, testified on Oct. 19 that Serhiy Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist turned Ukrainian lawmaker, was a source for Fusion GPS during the 2016 campaign.
“I recall … they were mentioning someone named Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian,” Ohr said when asked who Fusion GPS’s sources were, according to portions of Ohr’s testimony confirmed by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Ohr, whose husband is Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, testified that she was not aware of Leshchenko’s source information, but that she knew he was providing information to Fusion GPS, where she worked between late 2015 and the 2016 election.
“His source information I am not aware of,” Nellie Ohr testified.
“You were just aware that he was a source of –” one lawmaker began to ask.
“Yes,” Nellie Ohr interjected.
“[Fusion GPS founder] Glenn Simpson? Or was it a source of [Fusion GPS employee Jake Berkowitz] or both?” the lawmaker asked.
“I’m not aware of a difference between them, just a source of Fusion GPS,” said Nellie Ohr, a Russia linguist who previously worked for the CIA’s open source research unit, Open Source Works.
Nellie Ohr did not describe the Leshchenko-Fusion GPS source relationship in greater detail, so it is not clear whether the Ukrainian lawmaker was paid, how he transmitted information to Fusion or with whom at the firm he maintained contact.
Nellie Ohr did not testify whether she handled information from Leshchenko or if she provided it to her husband, who served as associate deputy attorney general and director of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.
Nellie Ohr’s testimony is the first time that a foreign government official has been linked as a source for Fusion GPS, ...
Is There Also A Ukrainian Connection To The Trump Tower Meeting?
Regular readers of this blog are probably aware that I attach particular significance to the famous Trump Tower meeting, in which Manafort, Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump Jr. represented the Trump campaign in a meeting with a variety of Russians (most prominently, the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya) and Russian connected figures. Among the Russians present was Rinat Akhmetshin. The best way I can think of to cut to the chase regarding the Trump Tower meeting is to refer to the account at Mechanics of Deception. MoD provides a wealth of information regarding the connections of various players in the Russia Hoax, including such Ukrainian figures as Alexandra Chalupa and others. The author points out the long involvement of Glenn Simpson in Ukrainian politics, promoting Ukrainian factions favored by Democrats and opposing factions favored by ... Paul Manafort and Republicans. Bear in mind that Simpson met with Veselnitskaya both before and after the Trump Tower meeting, as well as with other players:
In 2007, Simpson and his wife, Jacoby, authored an article entitled: “How Lobbyists Help Ex-Soviets Woo Washington”. This mercenary form of journalism promoted the specific political interests of one Ukrainian faction and alleged that prominent Republican politicians provided US business access to Kremlin-affiliated oligarchs and other friends of Putin. One such friend was Viktor Yanukovich who become president of Ukraine in 2010. According to the article, Yanukovich’s facilitator in the US was Paul Manafort. Manafort figures prominently throughout the article and later in the dossier.
Keeping in mind Simpson’s and Jacoby’s paid interest in Manafort and Yanukovich, it is important to note that Rinat Akhmetshin, the alleged facilitator of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, is married to Lyudmila Vereshchagina—a Ukrainian national with ties to FISU [Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine] who has been living in the US since 2008. Both Akhmetshin and Vereshchagina knew and communicated with Simpson, Jacoby, and Alexandra Chalupa (the junkyard dog of the DNC) and were involved in the organization of anti-Putin/Yanukovich/Trump activity across the US.
Rinat Akhmetshin’s lawyer/partner was Edward Lieberman, who concurrently worked for the Albright Stonebridge Group ... The Albright Stonebridge Group is a “Commercial Diplomacy” firm in Washington DC that is heavily involved with Ukrainian politics and lobbying activity in the US. Even more noteworthy, is Edward Lieberman’s wife, Evelyn Lieberman’s senior affiliation with the Clintons, Madeleine Albright and Joseph Biden.
Simpson's meetings with Veselnitskaya are now well known. What isn't so well known is what looks like coordination regarding the Trump Tower meeting involving Simpson, Lieberman, and Akhmetshin:
NEW YORK — Attorney Edward Lieberman, whose late wife Evelyn served as Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, exchanged numerous emails with the co-founder of the controversial Fusion GPS firm and Russian participants in the infamous June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting, documentation provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee shows.
The correspondence, part of a series of exhibits provided to Senate investigators and reviewed by Breitbart News, took place in the weeks leading up to the Trump Tower meeting.
Earlier this week, Breitbart News cited witness testimony saying Lieberman was present at one and possibly two dinner meetings between the controversial Fusion GPS firm and key participants in the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. Also, Lieberman met with one Russian participant the same day of the Trump Tower meeting, according to separate testimony.￼
Now the email logs provide a paper trail connection between Lieberman, Fusion GPS, and two of the Russian participants in the Trump Tower confab.
The logs show the emails in question were sent between Lieberman, Simpson, and Russian-born Washington lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, who was present at the Trump Tower presentation. Other emails were sent from Mark Cymrot, a lawyer at the U.S. law firm BakerHostetler, with Simpson, Lieberman, and Akhmetshin listed as the recipients.
And, As Always, There's An Andrew Weissmann connection
In Why Andrew Weissmann? I collect a fair amount of information regarding Weissmann's past employment at the FBI (under both Mueller and Comey) and his possible connection to the Trump Tower meeting. Yes, everywhere you turn in the Russia Hoax Andrew Weissmann seems to pop up. Rereading that post I see that there's also a Ukrainian connection, courtesy of Powerline's Paul Mirengoff. Here's a small part of a longish post. The long and the short of it, however, is to affirm once again that Ukraine was a key part of the effort to sabotage the Trump campaign:
UPDATE: In a letter to Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, dated 9/10/18, Rep. Mark Meadows detailed FBI and DoJ collusion to release leaks to the press to harm the Trump Administration. Specifically, Meadows noted
For example, while Strzok and Page texted about media leaks on April 10-12, 2017 — during the same timeframe as FBI and DOJ officials were having conversations with reporters — the Washington Post broke a story on the Carter Page FISA application on April 11, 2017, setting off a flurry of articles suggesting connections between President Trump and Russia. Other documents indicate DOJ officials, specifically Andrew Weissmann, participated in unauthorized conversations with the media during this same period. Evidence suggests senior officials at the FBI and DOJ communicated with other news outlets beyond the Washington Post, as well.
"During this same period" means Weissmann was illegally colluding in anti-Trump leaks two months before joining the Mueller Russia Hoax team.
Paul Mirengoff at Powerline, The FBI’s anti-Trump “leak strategy”, further notes:
Weissmann is now a key member of Robert Mueller’s team of anti-Trump partisans. Before Mueller was appointed, Weissmann, then a high ranking DOJ official, met met with reporters from the Associated Press in April 2017, just one day before their explosive story on Paul Manafort’s dealings with Ukraine officials.
This meeting of Weissmann with AP reporters has long been public knowledge--as is the fact that it has been the subject of investigation by IG Horowitz. That means that SC Mueller has long been aware of it.
To wrap up, Tom Lifson at American Thinker offers a useful longer term perspective going forward--The Kiev Connection: Have the Democrats opened Pandora’s Box with successful demand for investigation of foreign influence on the 2016 election?
Democrats may regret their years of hyperventilation over allegations of foreign “collusion” to influence a presidential election. In what amounts to slow-motion political jujitsu, the very nefarious acts attributed to the Trump campaign may end up being applied to the Obama administration and Hillary campaign. A formal criminal investigation already is being launched overseas, making an American counterpart investigation awkward to suppress.
Anyone who has paid attention to the genesis of the Mueller investigation understands that it was opposition research paid for by the Democratic Party and Hillary presidential campaign and corrupt senior officials at the FBI that sparked the appointment of the Special Counsel. But new information ... suggests that there was indeed an effort by a foreign government to influence the 2016 election, and that it was the government of Ukraine attempting to sway voters in Hillary’s favor.
Keep in mind that there are many other potential sources of evidence for turning the Democrats’ efforts to rid themselves of President Trump by investigation against them. President Trump can de-classify and release the FISA warrants, that appear to have concealed relevant facts from the Court – a criminal offense – and other information about the corruption at the FBI.
My assumption all along has been that as the most successful reality TV producer in the history of the medium, Donald Trump is managing the “story arc” for maximum effect on the 2020 electorate. Finally, at long last we may be seeing the third act of this drama begin.