Ex-Trump aide Paul Manafort approved ‘black ops’ to help Ukraine president
Exclusive: Paul Manafort authorised secret media operation that sought to discredit key opponent of then Ukrainian president
Donald Trumps former campaign manager Paul Manafort authorised a secret media operation on behalf of Ukraines former president, featuring black ops, placed articles in the Wall Street Journal and US websites, and anonymous briefings against Hillary Clinton.
The project was designed to boost the reputation of Ukraines then leader, Viktor Yanukovych. It was part of a multimillion-dollar lobbying effort carried out by Manafort on behalf of Yanukovychs embattled government, emails and documents reveal.
The strategies included:
Proposing to rewrite Wikipedia entries to smear a key opponent of the then Ukrainian president.
Setting up a fake thinktank in Vienna to disseminate viewpoints supporting Yanukovych.
A social media blitz aimed at targeted audiences in Europe and the US.
Briefing journalists from the rightwing website Breitbart to attack Clinton, when she was US secretary of state.
Manaforts Ukraine strategy anticipates later efforts by the Kremlin and its troll factory to use Twitter and Facebook to discredit Clinton and to help Trump win the 2016 US election. The material seen by the Guardian dates from 2011 to 2013.
Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, has indicted Manafort on multiple counts. Manafort is accused of laundering profits from his lobbying work in Ukraine, carried out over a decade for Yanukovych and his political party.