The Washington Post reported Wednesday evening that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort offered to provide updates on the 2016 campaign to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. The offer was reportedly made through an intermediary between email. From the Post:
The emails are among tens of thousands of documents that have been turned over to congressional investigators and Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team as they probe whether Trump associates coordinated with Russia as part of Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.
There is no evidence in the documents showing that Deripaska received Manafort’s offer or that any briefings took place. And a spokeswoman for Deripaska dismissed the email exchanges as scheming by “consultants in the notorious ‘beltway bandit’ industry.”
The AP reported in March that Manafort crafted a plan to influence American politics in the interests of Vladimir Putin for Deripaska in 2005. The FBI raided Manafort’s home in late July, a day after his meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, as part of its ongoing investigation of his activities. According to the Post's reporting, people close to Manafort believe that Mueller hopes to pressure him into providing infomation about others in Trump’s circle.
One particularly juicy tidbit from the Post report is that the emails contained potentially coded language possibly discussing money either paid to Manfort or owed to him.
The notes appear to be written in deliberately vague terms, with Manafort and his employee, Konstantin Kilimnik, never explicitly mentioning Deripaska by name.
Investigators believe that key passages refer to Deripaska. The billionaire is referenced in some places by his initials, “OVD,” and one email invokes an expensive Russian delicacy in what investigators believe is a veiled reference to Manafort’s past work with Deripaska.
In one April exchange days after Trump named Manafort as a campaign strategist, Manafort referred to his positive press and growing reputation and asked, “How do we use to get whole?”
Kilimnik wrote in the July 29 email that he had met that day with the person “who gave you the biggest black caviar jar several years ago,” according to the people familiar with the exchange Kilimnik said it would take some time to discuss the “long caviar story,” and the two agreed to meet in New York.
Investigators believe that the reference to the pricey Russian luxury item may have been a reference to Manafort’s past lucrative relationship with Deripaska, according to people familiar with the probe.
"The biggest black caviar jar"... Delicious!