On Tuesday, prosecutors working for the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller made a filing in federal court detailing that former 2016 Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was in contact via text message with someone who said they had access to President Donald Trump. The message read:
“If I see POTUS one on one next week am I ok to remind him of our relationship?”
“Yes. Even if not one on one.”
Those text messages were sent while Manafort was awaiting trial on charges of bank and tax fraud. And they suggest that both Manafort and Trump were involved in a plot to obstruct justice in some manner.
But more troubling for the president is the underlying message behind the court filing: Mueller has all of Manafort’s communications, including those with the White House and even Trump himself. If that’s the case, then Mueller also has proof of a criminal conspiracy.
The filing also reveals that Manafort tried to influence witnesses with the help of Konstantin Kilimnik, who has deep ties to Russian intelligence:
“The new filing says that Manafort and Kilimnik communicated between Aug. 2, 2016 — in the middle of the presidential campaign — and March 2018, when prosecutors say the two men attempted to tamper with witnesses. In several interviews and before grand jurors, Manafort gave ‘various accounts concerning his communications with Kilimnik,’ including a meeting in New York.”
With the mention of Kilimnik, Mueller has clearly sketched out a direct line between Manafort, Russia, and Donald Trump. That’s the second (and much more serious) conspiracy, which Trump often refers to as “collusion” in his ridiculous denials that he had anything to do with Russia or Vladimir Putin.
And there was one other juicy morsel in that Tuesday court filing, and it involves Manafort’s former business partner, Rick Gates:
“The filing also refers to Rick Gates, Manafort’s former right-hand man who pleaded guilty and is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation. Gates told prosecutors in debriefings that Manafort told him around January 2017 that Manafort was using intermediaries to ‘get people appointed in the administration,’ according to the filing.”
No collusion? There’s so much damn collusion that it’s difficult to keep up with all of it.