Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has long, long tentacles that have reached more deeply into the murky caves of people surrounding Donald Trump. Two of those people have just surfaced, while others keep coming up again and again. The two men have offered a wealth of information about the president.
Last year, Mueller met with one of the pollsters who worked on the Trump campaign. Tony Fabrizio was also a business associate of the man who knew Russian oligarchs the best, Paul Manafort. The special counsel wanted to know more about how Manafort got polling information to his man in Russia linked to Moscow intelligence, according to an exclusive by CNN.
Polling information is precious to political campaigns, because it shows the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. It also indicates how and where campaign messaging works and does less well.
Head Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) said:
‘This appears as the closest we’ve seen yet to real live actual collusion. Did the Russians end up using this information in their efforts that took place later in the fall where they tried using the Internet Research Agency and other bots and other automated tools on social media to suppress, for example, the African-American vote? Was that something that was driven by this campaign data that was turned over to the Russians?’
Another one of Manafort’s associates, Rick Gates, flipped to turn state’s evidence as soon as he found out Fabrizio had talked to the special counsel’s attorneys. Gates continues to work with Mueller’s team, because he was also deeply involved in Manafort’s finances. Gates remained on the Trump campaign after Manafort left, as the deputy campaign chair and head of the inaugural committee. Millions of dollars disappeared down the inaugural committee hole.
Manafort’s attorneys accidentally released unredacted information. It indicated that the prosecutors knew their client shared Trump’s polling data with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s right-hand man, Konstantin Kilimnik. This occurred at the same time Manafort was still managing Trump’s presidential campaign.
Fabrizio’s background in polling and political strategy brought him into Manafort’s realm of Ukrainian elections. He was deeply familiar with the Trump campaign, as its chief pollster, and what Manafort had been doing all these years with his Eastern European business dealings.
Trump preferred his gut to pollsters, but when Manafort came onboard to man the campaign, Fabrizio came, too. The pollster also knew a close friend of Trump, Roger Stone. When he came to the campaign, the pollster did not know Trump.
Fabrizio said he knew nothing about Manafort sharing polling information from the Trump campaign with Moscow:
‘No. I didn’t know anything about it. Nothing about it.’
Surprisingly, Mueller was more interested in Fabrizio’s work with Manafort in Ukraine than Trump’s polling data. The Department of Justice (DOJ) specified it wanted Mueller to check into the former. The DOJ saw it as a way to link the Russians to Trump’s presidential campaign.
Mueller has interviewed over a dozen people connected to Trump’s campaign.
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.