Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump, reached a plea deal on Friday that includes cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
But one incident in particular, outlined in court documents, was largely overlooked before it was spotted by the Daily Beast’s Spencer Ackerman: Manafort convinced conservative provocateur Ben Shapiro to support his political work in Ukraine.
“Manafort owes much of his time behind bars to his work on behalf of Russian-backed Ukrainian political interests,” according to Ackerman. Manafort worked for Kremlin-supported Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych during his re-election campaign against Yulia Tymoshenko in 2012. The superseding criminal information released on Friday detailed Manafort’s work in the U.S. on behalf of Yanukovych:
In addition to disseminating stories about (Tymoshenko) soliciting murder, noted above, in October 2012, MANAFORT orchestrated a scheme to have, as he wrote in a contemporaneous communication, “[O]bama jews” put pressure on the Administration to disavow Tymoshenko and support Yanukovych.
Part of that effort was coordinating “privately with a senior Israeli government official to issue a written statement publicizing this story.” Court documents state that Manafort then, “with secret advance knowledge of that Israeli statement, worked to disseminate this story in the United States.”
Who did Manafort get to write about this baseless allegation in the U.S.? None other than Shapiro. As the Guardian’s Luke Harding explained in April:
Manafort’s media operation included attacks on (Hillary) Clinton. In October 2012 (Rick) Gates emailed Manafort and (Alan) Friedman, flagging a piece written by the journalist Ben Shapiro. The Breitbart article criticised Clinton for her public support of Tymoshenko, who had recently made an electoral pact with the far-right Svoboda party.
The article cited a Jewish “leader” who accused Clinton anonymously of creating a “neo-Nazi Frankenstein.” Gates wrote: “Gentlemen – Here is the first part of a series of articles that will be coming as we continue to build this effort. Alan, you get full credit for the Frankenstein comment.”
Shapiro’s Manafort-inspired piece was published by Breitbart — his former employer — in October 2012 under the headline “Jewish Leaders Blame Hillary Clinton for ‘Legitimizing’ Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi Party.” It contained the apparent “neo-Nazi Frankenstein” reference that Manafort’s team took credit for in Gates’ email:
One prominent Jewish leader, who asked to remain unnamed, says that Clinton’s New York Times op-ed ripping the current Ukrainian administration has “created a neo-Nazi Frankenstein by issuing a de facto endorsement of Mrs. Tymoshenko and her choices.”
Shapiro has yet to comment on his connection to Manafort.