‘Elaborate hoax’: Manafort’s attorney cites Mueller’s confirmation no evidence exists

Analysis by WorldTribune Staff, May 28, 2018

“[A]n examination of the year-old official public record” reveals that special counsel Robert Mueller has failed to find evidence supporting the hypothesis justifying his investigation, according to a report by Rowan Scarborough.

The lack of such data did not prevent the major U.S. media from establishing a rationale that questioned the legitimacy of the election of Donald Trump as the president of the United States.

Paul Manafort, left, with lawyer Kevin Downing. / AP

The Trump-Russia collusion narrative “has all but collapsed, Scarborough wrote on May 27 in The Washington Times.

A main focus of the collusion narrative is former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s alleged regular communication with Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign.

CNN had reported: “Some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign, according to three sources familiar with the investigation.”

Manafort’s lawyer, in a court filing, noted that special counsel Robert Mueller has confirmed no evidence exists of the alleged communications.

“The special counsel has not produced any materials to the defense – no tapes, notes, transcripts or any other material evidencing surveillance or intercepts of communications between Mr. Manafort and Russian intelligence officials, Russian government officials [or any other foreign officials],” laywer Kevin Downing’s filing said. “The Office of Special Counsel has advised that there are no materials responsive to the request.”

Downing called the CNN report and others an “elaborate hoax.”

The New York Times “has reported repeatedly that the government owns intercepts of Manafort and other Trump aides talking to Russians,” Scarborough reported.

A story that appeared hours before President Donald Trump was inaugurated said: “American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said.”

The next month, the New York Times doubled down: “Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.”

Scarborough noted: “There is more in the official public record to rebut these reports” than just Downing’s filing.

Then-FBI director James Comey “was asked by senators about the Times’ February story. He said it was wrong and testified that he took the extraordinary step of warning senior lawmakers against believing it.”

Comey said “many, many” stories on the Russia investigation were “just dead wrong.”

Manafort told the New York Times: “I have never had any relationship with the Russian government or any Russian officials. I was never in contact with anyone, or directed anyone to be in contact with anyone.”

In his unverified dossier, based on Kremlin sources, ex-British spy Christopher Steele wrote: “speaking in confidence to a compatriot in late July 2016, Source B, an ethnic Russian close associate of Republican US presidential candidate Donald TRUMP, admitted that there was a well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between them and the Russian leadership. This was managed on the TRUMP side by the Republican candidates campaign manager PAUL MANAFORT who was using foreign policy advisor, Carter PAGE, and others as intermediaries.”

Scarborough notes that “The problem with this allegation is that, according to the public record,” Page and Manafort “did not know each other and have never met and talked to one another.”

Page testified to this fact under oath to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He also told the FBI.

“After more than a year of investigating, Democrats have failed to find any evidence to rebut Page,” Scarborough’s report said.

Downing said he sees the CNN and New York Times stories as part of an effort by unnamed people to “destroy Manafort’s reputation in the eyes of potential jurors.”

“If the representations of the special counsel are accurate and there is not, in fact, any evidence of communications between Mr. Manafort and foreign officials, then the perpetrators of this elaborate hoax must be identified and punished and the substantial unfair prejudice to Mr. Manafort must be remedied,” Downing said in his court brief.

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