I’ll admit, it took me a minute when the news first broke today. Paul Manafort’s attorneys screwed up and revealed in a public court filing that he shared the Donald Trump campaign’s internal polling with Russian spy Konstantin Kilimnik during the election, and then lied about it to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It didn’t hit me on first blush. But this particular detail is an admission that the Trump campaign and Russian hackers conspired to outright rig the vote totals. Bear with me on this, because it’ll prove crucial.
Just days after Donald Trump was shockingly named the winner in 2016, it was widely reported that Paul Manafort had told Trump to go campaign in Michigan and Wisconsin in the final days of the campaign. At the time, it was already known that Manafort was on the payroll of a Russian oligarch. In fact Manafort had already been gone from the campaign for four months because of his Russia scandal.
So if Manafort was telling Trump to make a weird last minute move like running to Michigan and Wisconsin, it had to have been because the Kremlin told Manafort to tell Trump to do it. The only reason the Kremlin would do this is if its hackers had already rigged those two states in Trump’s favor, and it wanted him visible there, so people would be less shocked when he “won” those two states.
As of today, we have confirmation that Paul Manafort gave the Trump campaign’s internal polls to Russia. Why would the Kremlin want these polls? They tend to be more accurate and detailed than publicly released polling data, and it gave the Kremlin the opportunity to see which states would be the easiest for its hackers to rig.
Earlier this year the Senate Intelligence Committee quietly released a bipartisan report confirming that Russian hackers penetrated the voter registration databases in key swing states, allowing them to delete voter registrations. This was how Russia “rigged” the vote total: before election day, it took away the ability of a number of people to vote in districts and precincts that heavily favored Hillary Clinton. When these people showed up to vote, they were simply turned away. Most of them would have simply left. Some surely cast provisional ballots, but those don’t end up counting if your registration is missing from the system.
We’ve known for some time now that Russian government hackers rigged the election by deleting voter registrations. Now, by Paul Manafort’s own admission, we know that he provided the Russians with the internal polling data that allowed them to figure out how to go about it the most efficiently. This proves the Trump campaign and the Kremlin conspired to rig the election. All that’s left is to prove that Donald Trump himself was in on it, and we suspect Mueller has that proof as well.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report