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June 25, 2019

Giuliani claims ‘nothing wrong’ about Manafort feeding Trump campaign data to suspected Russian spy: ‘It’s a joke’

January 11, 2019
Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, gets into a taxi after arriving at Union Station in Washington, D.C. in December 2017. (Andrew Harnik / AP)

Nothing to see here.

Rudy Giuliani on Thursday tried to downplay revelations that Paul Manafort fed internal Trump campaign polling data to a suspected Russian spy, claiming the exchanges were innocuous and no proof of collusion.

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“Polling data is not a state secret,” the former New York mayor told the Daily News in his first comment on the matter. “You can hand it out to anybody you want, nothing wrong with that.”

Giuliani, who serves as President Trump’s top attorney in the special counsel investigation, added, “It’s a joke. He gave out polling data, so what?”

Manafort’s legal team inadvertently disclosed in a court filing this week that the former Trump campaign chairman shared polling data related to the 2016 presidential race with Konstantin Kilimnik, a mysterious Russian national who the FBI says was trained by the Kremlin’s top intelligence agency and has deep connections to oligarchs loyal to President Vladimir Putin.

Kilimnik worked with Manafort while they were both lobbying for shadowy pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine in the mid-2000s. They have stayed in touch ever since.

Both men were jointly indicted by Robert Mueller earlier this year with obstructing his Russia investigation by tampering with witnesses and withholding evidence. Manafort, who will likely spend the rest of his life in prison, has separately been convicted and pleaded guilty to a slew of fraud and failure to register as a foreign agent charges over his pro-Kremlin lobbying.

Pressed on Kilimnik’s criminal charges and extensive ties to Russian intelligence, Giuliani conceded, “you shouldn’t be talking to people like that.”

“But,” Giulaini continued, “he only gave him polling data. That’s handed out all the time. Everybody has polling data…You have to be a real jackass to not know that.”

Legal experts were stunned by Giuliani’s face value denials and said the Kilimnik connection may be the most tangible evidence to date that Russians colluded with President Trump’s campaign ahead of the 2016 election.

“Why would the campaign chair of a major party presidential candidate provide internal polling data to a Russian intelligence operative? An obvious implication is that he wanted help from the Russians,” said Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago. “It’s just like wearing a ski mask walking into a bank. Not a crime but suggestive of a possible crime.”

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