Manafort weaponized antisemitism with ‘senior Israeli official‘ in Ukraine lobbying scheme

Paul Manafort tried to use misleading charges of antisemitism against a senior Obama administration official to pressure the former president to go soft on his Ukrainian client, Viktor Yanukovych, in 2012, according to documents released on Friday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s office.

New "superseding" criminal information was released this morning as part of a between Manafort, Donald Trump‘s former campaign chairman who faced charges for lobbying law violations, and Mueller, the special prosecutor investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Manafort has already been convicted on several counts of federal bank and tax fraud brought by the special counsel.

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Mueller describes a scheme by Manafort to manipulate "Obama‘s Jews"– in Manafort‘s own words– to pressure the administration to disavow Yanukovych‘s political archrival, Yulia Tymoshenko, by highlighting her alleged ties to antisemitic groups and spreading stories that an Obama "Cabinet official" supporting her cause was antisemitic by proxy.

Manafort "coordinated with a senior Israeli government official" to publicize the story, Mueller charged, seeking to convince the administration that "the Jewish community will take this out on Obama in the [2012 presidential] election if he does nothing." The Israeli official is not named.

He then fed claims to Obama officials that Yanukovych was working to quell the manicured crisis, hoping to ingratiate him with the administration.

Manafort‘s deep ties to Ukraine‘s pro-Russia figures, paired with his prominent role in Trump‘s presidential campaign, has drawn Mueller‘s attention as he investigates whether US persons coordinated with Moscow to influence the 2016 race.

US media reports that Mueller is also investigating political influence campaigns by additional foreign powers.

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According to archived articles from the time, the cabinet official referenced in the Mueller documents appears to be then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton, and the Israeli official appears to be Avigdor Liberman, then minister of foreign affairs.

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