Hacked texts allegedly sent to the daughter of Paul Manafort indicate that somebody in Russia or Ukraine attempted to blackmail President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman.
According to Politico, the hacked texts were sent to Manafort's daughter at an unknown time, but likely before Manafort stepped down from his campaign chairman role after The New York Times reported in August 2016 on financial ledgers that allege a pro-Russia political party paid him more than $12 million.
"I need to get in touch with Paul i need to share some important information with him regarding ukraine investigation," said the text, a screenshot of which was uploaded to a dark site frequented by hackers in mid- February.
The anonymous sender added: "[A]s soon as he comes back to me i will pass you documents...if I don’t get any reply from you iam gonaa pass it on to the fbi and ukrainian authorities inducing media."
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Another text, possibly from the same sender, read: "Considering all the facts and evidence that are in my possession, and before possible decision whether to pass this to [the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine] or FBI I would like to get your opinion on this and maybe your way to work things out that will persuade me to do otherwise."
Politico reported on possible evidence that points to Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian parliamentarian and former journalist, as the sender, but he denied those allegations.
"I've never written any emails or messages to ... Manafort or his family," Leshchenko told Politico.
And in a Facebook post, Leshchenko said the "correspondence with Manafort's daughter is obviously fake."
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In The New York Times story from August 2016, Leshchenko reportedly obtained the secret accounting records that allege Manafort was paid more than $12 million by the pro-Russia Ukrainian party.
"Paul Manafort is among those names on the list of so-called ‘black accounts of the Party of Regions,’ which the detectives of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine are investigating," the statement from the National Anti-Corruption Bureau said at the time. "We emphasize that the presence of P. Manafort’s name in the list does not mean that he actually got the money, because the signatures that appear in the column of recipients could belong to other people."
While Manafort didn't accuse Leshchenko of attempting to blackmail him, he said the timing of The New York Times story soon after the threatening texts seem suspicious to him.
"I find it coincidental that I got these texts, and then he released these phony journals," Manafort told Politico.