he Democratic-funded dossier of Russian propaganda that was largely debunked by the Mueller special counsel investigation apparently wasn’t the only bogus document fueling the “Russia collusion” allegations.
Another document, known as the “black cash ledger,” forced Paul Manafort to resign as Trump’s campaign chairman in the summer of 2016 and eventually face indictment.
But investigative journalist John Solomon has found through documents and more than a dozen interviews with knowledgeable sources that the FBI used the document to advance the case against Manafort even though it was repeatedly warned that it was not reliable and likely was a fake.
Solomon, writing for The Hill, noted that in search warrant affidavits, the FBI portrayed the ledger as one reason it resurrected a criminal case against Manafort that was dropped in 2014.
The ledger supposedly contained a list of off-the-book payments from Ukraine’s Party of Regions to Manafort.
Significantly, Mueller’s special counsel team and the FBI were given copies of a warning by Manafort’s Ukrainian business partner Konstantin Kilimnik that the document likely was bogus, according to three sources familiar with the documents.
Further, Ukraine’s top anticorruption prosecutor, Nazar Kholodnytsky, told Solomon he warned the State Department’s law enforcement liaison and multiple FBI agents in late summer 2016 that Ukrainian authorities who recovered the ledger believed it likely was a fraud.
“It was not to be considered a document of Manafort. It was not authenticated. And at that time it should not be used in any way to bring accusations against anybody,” Kholodnytsky said, recalling what he told FBI agents.
Kilimnik, a regular informer for the State Department, wrote in an email to a senior U.S. official in August 2016 that Manafort “could not have possibly taken large amounts of cash across three borders. It was always a different arrangement — payments were in wire transfers to his companies, which is not a violation.”
Solomon pointed out that according to the FBI operating manual, submitting knowingly false or suspect evidence in a federal court proceeding violates FBI rules and can be a crime under certain circumstances.
While the FBI and Mueller’s office did not cite the actual ledger, it cited media reports about it. And it turned out that the feds assisted on one of those stories as sources.
Agents mentioned the ledger in an affidavit supporting a July 2017 search warrant for Manafort’s house. And three months later, the FBI — seeking a search warrant for Manafort’s bank records — cited a specific article about the ledger as evidence Manafort was paid to perform U.S. lobbying work for the Ukrainians.
In the affidavit arguing probable cause to obtain the search warrant, an FBI agent cited an Associated Press article reporting Manafort’s company records showed it received at least two payments that corresponded to payments in the “black ledger.”