The Associated Press this morning reports that Paul Manafort worked for years with indicted associate Konstantin Kilimnik to further Russian interests in the U.S., and Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough led a discussion.
"And now internal memos and other business records obtained by the Associated Press purport to show how Kilimnik, indicted on witness tampering charges, worked with Manafort to advance Russian interests," Scarborough said.
"A reported 2004 memo from Kilimnik to Manafort details his dire forecast for Russia after their failed attempts to manipulate political events in former Soviet states. Quoting from the AP report, records show Manafort planned to influence western politicians and media outlets. a propaganda operation intended to target Washington and European capitals and "train a cadre of leaders who can be relied upon in future governments," according to one memo.
"The records show Kilimnik helped conceive strategies that Manafort sold to clients and that he served as a key liaison between Manafort and principal financial experts offering private briefings in July of 2016 serving as Trump campaign chairman."
Scarborough noted that such serious allegations indicate that Manafort was "more than a useful idiot for Putin and the Russians. I want to be careful with the word because I'm sure whatever word I choose will be freighted with legal significance, but it's like he's an agent for them. Technically was not, I know, but certainly a promoter of Putin and Russia's interests actively."
Michael Steele said the word "promote" was a good way to describe it.
"Because it's apropos to a lot of what we're beginning to learn how Manafort acted before he got to the campaign," he said.
"What he brought in to the campaign, and the fact that he -- he had connections that reached a lot further than we thought in terms of the relationships in Russia and as well as the influence on the campaign. We saw it play out, Joe. I remember being on the show back when the RNC changed its platform to reflect this sort of Russian influence. All part of an effort to get friendly players inside."