Let’s not spend another second on the Donald Trump non-news event from last night. There was a huge story yesterday but it wasn’t about the president, but about his former campaign manager, and it all came to light by accident.
Un-redacted filings from Paul Manafort’s careless attorneys moved us one step closer to collusion. Manafort, it turns out, gave 2016 polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian political consultant and long-suspected intelligence operative. CNN writes:
“Beyond the fact that Manafort was in regular touch with Kilimnik, the un-redacted court filings shed new light on the content of some of their conversations. For the first time, the public learned that Manafort shared “polling data” about the 2016 campaign with his Russian friend.“There aren’t any additional details — all this tells us is that Mueller believes that Manafort fed polling data to Kilimnik, possibly even polls commissioned by the Trump campaign.
“It’s possible Manafort innocuously gave the polls to Kilimnik because he is a political junkie and wanted to dig into the crosstabs. But there’s also a possibility that Kilimnik, with his active ties to Russian intelligence, funneled the information to Russian agents to influence the election.”
“In a statement, Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.), senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, called information in the filing “damning evidence of a senior Trump campaign official providing information to individuals tied to Russian intelligence in the midst of the Kremlin’s effort to undermine our election.”
“Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), incoming chair of the House Intelligence Committee, called the filing “stunning” and promised to pursue the questions it raised.”
“This is the closest thing we have seen to collusion,” Clint Watts, a senior fellow with the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said of the data-sharing. “The question now is, did the president know about it?”
“The document gave no indication of whether Mr. Trump was aware of the data transfer or how Mr. Kilimnik might have used the information. But from March to August 2016, when Mr. Manafort worked for the Trump campaign, Russia was engaged in a full-fledged operation using social media, stolen emails and other tactics to boost Mr. Trump, attack Mrs. Clinton and play on divisive issues such as race and guns. Polling data could conceivably have helped Russia hone those messages and target audiences to help swing votes to Mr. Trump.”