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Emails reveal Paul Manafort wanted to impress a Russian oligarch with his proximity to Trump

President Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, possibly attempted to leverage his proximity to the Republican candidate to "curry favor with a Russian oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin," The Atlantic writes based on emails turned over to investigators.

Manafort was reportedly $16 million in debt to companies connected to Russian interests in Ukraine, although it is unclear if he owed money directly to Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska, the oligarch in question. Despite his financial troubles, Manafort worked for the Trump presidential campaign for free. "In the email exchange that took place two weeks after starting on the campaign, Manafort seemed primarily concerned with the Russian oligarch's approval for his work with Trump — and asked for confirmation that Deripaska was indeed paying attention," The Atlantic writes.

Deripaska and Manafort did not meet in 2016, as far as documents show. Manafort did correspond at length with Konstantin Kilimnik, who had worked with him in the Ukrainian capital, about the oligarch "OVD."

In the email exchange that took place two weeks after starting on the campaign, Manafort seemed primarily concerned with the Russian oligarch's approval for his work with Trump — and asked for confirmation that Deripaska was indeed paying attention.

"Yes, I have been sending everything to Victor, who has been forwarding the coverage directly to OVD," Kilimnik responded in April, referring again to Deripaska. ("Victor" is a Deripaska aide, the source close to Manafort confirmed.) "Frankly, the coverage has been much better than Trump's," Kilimnik wrote. "In any case it will hugely enhance your reputation no matter what happens." [The Atlantic]

Kilimnik has denied that discussions with Manafort went beyond the topics of "current news" and "unpaid bills" — and they were "in no way related to politics or the presidential campaign in the U.S.," he told The Washington Post. Read the full report at The Atlantic.