A defense attorney in a court filing says special counsel Robert Mueller has disclosed he has no evidence that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort communicated with Russian government officials.
If the attorney is accurate, it delivers another credibility blow to the Democratic Party-financed dossier, which accuses Mr. Manafort of orchestrating Trump-Russia collusion.
Kevin Downing, a defense attorney for Mr. Manafort, filed the brief April 30 in the special counsel’s money-laundering case against his client. Those charges are confined to millions of dollars he earned as a political consultant for Ukrainian politicians.
The Ukraine criminal case, to date in public court filings, has nothing to do with alleged Trump-Russia coordination. But Mr. Downing’s brief to a federal judge is relevant to the Mueller Russia investigation because it punches a big hole in dossier conspiracies being investigated by the FBI and Congress.
Mr. Downing said he has asked Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors multiple times under mandatory discovery rules for any information showing any communication between Mr. Manafort and Russian officials during the campaign season.
“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],” Mr. Downing said. “The Office of Special Counsel has advised that there are no materials responsive to Mr. Manafort’s request.”
Mr. Downing’s declaration deals another blow to the veracity of the dossier, funded by the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign and written by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.
Mr. Steele laid out a supposed “extensive conspiracy” between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, and Mr. Manafort, as the dossier narrative goes, was right in the middle of it.
Mr. 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.”