Americans’ collective judgment is so clouded by hyperpartisan lenses that we are missing a potential national security threat right before our very eyes.

Former President Donald Trump is apparently considering reenlisting someone onto his campaign who the Senate Intelligence Committee once dubbed “a grave counterintelligence threat” because of ties to a Russian oligarch.

On March 18, The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey reported, “Four people close to Trump said he was expected to hire (Paul) Manafort as a campaign adviser later this year, with potential jobs centering on the Republican National Convention and/or fundraising.”

The following thread is only a partial list of the actions and history of Paul Manafort.

John Newhouse wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine that beginning in May 2002, Ukraine was making it clear that membership in NATO was one of its principal goals. “Later, in 2005, a staff member at the National Security Council called (Sen. John) McCain’s office, which itself was pushing for Ukraine’s acceptance into NATO, to complain that Davis, Manafort, & Freedman’s lobbying was undercutting U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine.” Davis, Manafort, & Freedman was Manafort’s lobbying firm.

He continued his work as a lobbyist in the 2000s. Trump hired Manafort as his unpaid campaign manager from March until August 2016. Trump asked Manafort to resign after the Associated Press revealed that Manafort had orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation until 2014 on behalf of Ukraine’s ruling pro-Russian political party and was being investigated by the FBI.


During the 2016 campaign, Manafort allegedly shared Trump campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian citizen who the U.S. government said had ties to Russian intelligence.

In 2017, the Associated Press reported on a 2005 strategy memo that Manafort secretly worked for a Russian billionaire with a plan to “greatly benefit the Putin Government.”

In 2018, as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections — interference the investigation concluded was “sweeping and systemic” — Manafort was found guilty of hiding millions of dollars he’d made lobbying on behalf of pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians in overseas bank accounts and then falsifying his finances to get loans.

Trump’s first impeachment trial was triggered after a call Trump had with the President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine in which Trump asked Zelenskyy to announce two investigations: one involving his potential opponent, Joe Biden, in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, and a second into unsubstantiated allegations that Ukraine had interfered in the 2016 presidential election. At the time of the call, the Office of Management and Budget had frozen $400 million in military aid to Ukraine at the direction of Trump.

In August 2020, the bipartisan U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its report on Russian Active Measures, Campaigns, and Interference in the 2016 U.S. Election. The committee’s acting chairman at the time was Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Here are a few of the takeaways from the heavily redacted report regarding Manafort:

“The Committee found that Manafort’s presence on the Campaign and proximity to Trump created opportunities for the Russian intelligence services to exert influence over, and acquire confidential information on, the Trump Campaign.”


“The Committee assesses that [Russian intelligence officer Konstantin] Kilimnik likely served as a channel to Manafort for Russian intelligence services, and that those services likely sought to exploit Manafort’s access to gain insight into the Campaign.”

“Beginning while he was Campaign chairman and continuing until at least 2018, Manafort discussed with Kilimnik a peace plan for eastern Ukraine that benefited the Kremlin.”

“Taken as a whole, Manafort’s high-level access and willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services, particularly Kilimnik, and associates of Oleg Deripaska, represented a grave counterintelligence threat.”

After losing the 2020 election, Trump pardoned Manafort in December of that year.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán recently met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago. After the meeting, Orbán told Hungarian state media that Trump had told him he would “not give a penny in the Ukraine-Russia war … Therefore, the war will end, because it is obvious that Ukraine cannot stand on its own feet.”

Now, apparently, Trump is considering bringing back Manafort as a close adviser to the campaign. This is happening against the backdrop of Trump potentially receiving intelligence briefings again as a major-party nominee, despite the fact that he faces criminal charges that he mishandled classified information after he left office.


While the following quote from the Senate Intelligence Committee report speaks to the 2020 election, it could and should easily apply to 2024:

“The counterintelligence lessons contained in this report regarding what happened to the United States in 2016 should be an alarm bell for the nation, and for those preparing to defend the nation against current and evolving threats targeting the upcoming U.S. elections. Indeed, Russia is actively interfering again in the 2020 U.S. election to assist Donald Trump, and some of the President’s associates are amplifying those efforts. It is vitally important that the country be ready.”

In order to be ready again in 2024, Americans need to be clear on the threats at hand by viewing them through fully opened, undarkened, and nonpartisan eyes.

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