Paul
Manafort, former campaign manager for U.S. President Donald Trump
arrives for a bond hearing at U.S. District Court in
Washington
Thomson
Reuters

  • Notes taken by President Donald Trump’s campaign
    chairman during a meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 with a
    Russian lawyer and Russian lobbyist were described in a
    transcript released by Congress earlier this week.
  • The notes reference Cyprus, the RNC, and Juleanna
    Glover — a press secretary for former Vice President Dick
    Cheney who has worked with the anti-corruption activist Bill
    Browder.
  • Manafort gave his notes, which he took on his iPhone,
    to the Senate Intelligence Committee last July.

Contemporaneous notes taken by President Donald Trump’s campaign
chairman Paul Manafort at a meeting with a Russian lawyer and
lobbyist at Trump Tower during the election reference Cyprus,
“active sponsors of RNC,” and “Russian adoptions by American
families,” according to an interview transcript released by
Congress earlier this week.

Senate Judiciary Committee investigators showed the notes to
Glenn Simpson, the cofounder of the opposition research firm
Fusion GPS, and asked him whether he recognized any of the terms
or phrases Manafort wrote down during the June 9 meeting and
later provided to congressional investigators.

The notes mentioned “active sponsors of RNC” and referenced
Juleanna Glover, a political strategist and lobbyist who served
as Dick Cheney’s press secretary during the Iraq war, according
to the transcript. There was also a reference to “133 million,”
according to Simpson.

“We understand these are meeting notes,” said Jason Foster, the
chief investigative counsel for Senate Judiciary Committee
chairman Chuck Grassley.

“Do these phrases about — including Mr. Browder, mean anything
to you or relate to any of the research that you conducted or
otherwise aware of regarding Mr. Browder?” Foster asked.

Bill Browder, a wealthy American banker, was the target of
opposition research conducted by Fusion GPS on behalf of a US law
firm representing the Russian holding company Prevezon. Browder
had accused Prevezon of being involved in a $230 million
tax-fraud scheme and laundering the stolen money into New York
City real estate.

“I could tell — obviously you know who Bill Browder is,” Simpson
told the committee, after being shown the Manafort meeting notes.
Simpson had told the committee earlier that his work for
Prevezon’s American lawyers was focused “on trying to get William
Browder to testify under oath about his role in this case and his
activities in Russia.”

“Cyprus Offshore, Bill Browder’s structure, you know, investment
— Hermitage Capital, his hedge fund, set up numerous companies
in Cyprus to engage in inward investment into Russia,” Simpson
said, “which is a common structure, both partially for tax
reasons but also to have entities outside of Russia, you know,
managing specific investments.”

“I can only tell you I assume that’s what that references,”
Simpson added. “I don’t know what the 133 million –”

Foster cut Simpson off.

“Do any of the other entries in here mean anything to you in
light of the research you’ve conducted or what you otherwise know
about Mr. Browder?” he asked.

Simpson said he could guess:

“So, ‘Value in Cyprus as inter,’ I don’t know what that means,”
Simpson said. “‘Illici,’ I don’t know what that means ‘Active
sponsors of RNC,’ I don’t know what that means. ‘Browder hired
Joanna Glover’ is a mistaken reference to Juleanna Glover, who
was Dick Cheney’s press secretary during the Iraq war and
associated with another foreign policy controversy. ‘Russian
adoptions by American families’ I assume is a reference to the
adoption issue.”

Simpson added that “a couple of items” in the notes referenced
things his firm had worked on, including Cyprus and Bill
Browder’s financial ties to the country.

Glover confirmed on Friday that she served as the Ashcroft
Group’s lead lobbyist pushing for the Magnitsky Act’s passage
between 2011 and 2012, and had worked with Browder in that
capacity.

It is not clear why the “RNC” — possibly a reference to the
Republican National Committee — was brought up during the
meeting. Manafort’s spokesman Jason Maloni declined to comment.

Donald Trump Jr., who was also at the meeting, said in a
statement last summer that the Russian lawyer who had promised
the campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton spoke only of Russia’s
adoption policy. The policy was altered to bar American families
from adopting Russian children in retaliation for the signing of
the Magnitsky Act in 2012.

Manafort gave his notes, which he took on his iPhone, to the
Senate Intelligence Committee last July when he appeared before
the committee to testify. He has since been indicted by special
counsel Robert Mueller on charges including money laundering,
tax-fraud, and violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

NBC reported last August that the notes made a vague reference to
political contributions and the RNC and therefore elevated the
significance of the notes for congressional investigators. The
references to “133 million,” Glover, and Cyprus — where Manafort
himself kept bank accounts during his years working in Ukraine
and investing with a Russian oligarch — had not been previously
reported.

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