Special counsel Robert Mueller can show definitively that the Trump campaign had a “connection to Russian intelligence” in 2016, Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano said this week.
According to The Hill, Napolitano’s argument rests on court papers filed this week in the criminal case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, which were leaked to the public and revealed that Manafort had shared campaign polling data with a Russian national.
An error resulting in unredacted information in the document, filed by Manafort’s attorneys, let slip that Mueller accused Manafort of sharing campaign data with Konstantin Kilimnik — a former employee who U.S. intelligence officials believe to have ties to the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency.
Further reporting by CNN claimed that Manafort intended for the polling data to reach two Ukrainian oligarchs for whom he previously did political work, Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov. The pair reportedly still owed Trump’s campaign chair $2.4 million in 2016.
Napolitano said this new information regarding Manafort shows that Mueller can make the case for a connection between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence, whereby information was flowing from the campaign:
“The prosecutors accused Paul Manafort of lying to FBI agents in violation of his guilty plea to cooperate with them and they filed their allegations of the lies under seals. We don’t know what they were,” Napolitano said during a segment with Fox News host Shep Smith.
“Paul Manafort’s lawyer’s filed their answer and they forgot to seal part of it and the part they forgot to seal was that the FBI accused Paul Manafort of lying about whether or not he gave confidential polling data at the height of the campaign to a Russian oligarch who the FBI has identified as source for Russian intelligence,” he continued.
“This shows that Bob Mueller can demonstrate to a court without testimony of Paul Manafort, that the campaign had a connection to Russian intelligence and the connection involved information going from the campaign to the Russians,” Napolitano said.
The question then becomes whether Manafort expected something in return for the polling data, Napolitano said — and whether then-candidate Donald Trump was in on the scheme.
“And would that be a conspiracy?” Smith asked.
“Yes,” Napolitano replied. “Conspiracy is an agreement to commit a crime. The crime would be to receive something of value from the foreign person or government during a campaign. Whether or not the thing of value arrives, the agreement is what is the crime.”