Paul Manafort joined President Trump’s election campaign with at least 18 trips to Moscow under his belt and 19 visits to Kiev to work with a pro-Kremlin political faction, McClatchy reports. Citing flight records obtained from Ukrainian authorities and information from current and former government officials, the report says the former campaign chairman’s ties to the Kremlin go much deeper than previously thought. During his frequent trips to Kiev after the February 2014 ouster of Kremlin-backed President Viktor Yanukovych, Manafort worked with the pro-Kremlin Opposition Bloc party and went so far as to promote an anti-NATO stance, according to one source cited in the report. Manafort already faces money laundering and conspiracy charges as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, but the mounting evidence of his Kremlin-connected contacts may shift the focus to collusion. A source cited in the report said government investigators are already examining information they’ve gotten regarding “talks between Russians about using Manafort as part of their broad influence operations during the elections.” Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, has denied allegations of collusion but declined to say whether Manafort met with any government officials during his trips to Moscow.
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