The Mueller madness has intensified to such an extent this past week that I was unable to keep up. We covered the story of Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s passing on polling data to his former Ukrainian/Russian associate Konstantin Kiliminik in the January 9 edition of this series. In that post I drew on the Wall Street Journal and AP stories while neglecting this New York Times story (accessible here on Outline) by Sharon LaFraniere, Kenneth P. Vogel and Maggie Haberman. Scott Shane contributed reporting from London, and Andrew E. Kramer from Kiev, Ukraine. That makes five of the Times’s top reporters.
The Times cited “a person knowledgeable about the situation” asserting that Manafort had asked his deputy, Rick Gates, to “tell Mr. Kilimnik to pass the data to [Russian oligarch] Oleg P. Deripaska.” This was supposedly the Big Russian Connection. However, the Times has retracted this claim. This Big Russian Connection has become the big Russian correction.
The story now runs with this postscript: “A previous version of this article misidentified the people to whom Paul Manafort wanted a Russian associate to send polling data. Mr. Manafort wanted the data sent to two Ukrainian oligarchs, Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov, not Oleg V. Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin.” Oops.
While we’re on the subject of Oleg Deripaska, however, let us search the windmills of our mind to recall Deripaska’s busiest bee in Washington — i.e., Christopher Steele. See Eric Felten’s Weekly Standard story “Was Christopher Steele Disseminating Russian Disinformation to the State Department?” Yet again that which would incriminate Trump if proved amounts to nothing more than an innocent frolic when the connection runs to the Clinton campaign.