The mention of the Mueller Report caught my eye...
..."My name's not in there, is it?"
A Russian businessman asked me that question when the redacted version of Robert Mueller's investigation report came out on Thursday. He wasn't really joking and he wasn't alone " more than one Russian I spoke to last week started our conversation in the same way.
As someone who has been following Russia for the better part of three decades, what struck me most about the special counsel's report " hacking and social media influence campaign aside " was how, in granular detail, it chronicled the efforts of several of Russia's most prominent business leaders to permeate President Donald Trump's inner circle, apparently at the behest of President Vladimir Putin....
According to the Mueller report, former Trump campaign manager Manafort directed associates to reach out to Deripaska and offer him briefings and internal campaign polling data after he joined the Republican candidate's team. By doing this, Mueller suggested, Manafort was looking to resolve a legal dispute with Deripaska over millions of dollars that Deripaska claimed he was owed.
Deripaska, though, said in our interview Tuesday that he never got any of those briefings of Trump polling data, and that neither he nor any of his representatives had corresponded with Manafort in at least the last eight years.
To be clear, Mueller did not identify evidence of a connection between Manafort's polling data and Russia's interference in the 2016 election or "establish that Manafort otherwise coordinated with the Russian government on its election-interference efforts."
But correspondence cited in the report between Manafort and his associates strongly suggests at least the associates believed Deripaska was receiving their information.
Mueller also says Manafort himself met with one of Deripaska's representatives, Georgy Oganov, in January 2017. That little detail came as a surprise to me: Oganov was the only other person Deripaska brought with him to our interview last week.
Deripaska has declined through his press secretary to comment about the report's findings....