Circa News’ Sarah Carter published a story Wednesday about the Russian influence surrounding Senator John McCain’s 2008 campaign. The same Russians and foreign lobbyists tied to the Russia probe around Donald Trump were involved in the McCain campaign.
McCain won’t defend President Trump on the Russia probe and has compared it to Watergate. That’s hardly fair. In Watergate, Nixon likely committed crimes. In Trump’s case, there is no evidence of a crime.
It’s also ironic because it’s the same controversy that surrounded McCain.
A decade ago, concerns of Russia ties muddied McCain’s presidential campaign. The same people were involved: foreign lobbyists Paul Manafort and Rick Davis; Russian Oligarch, Oleg Deripaska; Russian Diplomat, Sergey Kislyak; and Putin.
McCain even met twice with Deripaska, the Russian businessman and Putin ally. Manafort and Davis arranged it.
One of McCain’s advisers, John Weaver, said he believed the meetings were bait to bring in more Rubles to the U.S.
Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager very briefly, but he was more involved in McCain’s campaigns.
McCain and his staff had knowledge of the Russia ties during the 2008 campaign. Manafort was known to be working for the political party in Ukraine supporting Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who was backed by Putin.
Manafort was spreading propaganda to favor Putin and his ally. This was in opposition to President Bush’s policy. Bush was concerned about Yanukovych’s ties to Putin.
Even U.S. intelligence raised concerns with McCain’s staff about Manafort. McCain’s office was also warned by U.S. intelligence of the possible ties to Russian military advisers.
Manafort was questioned by the FBI at that time.
The McCain Russia story began in the mid-2000s
Rick Davis, who was McCain’s campaign manager in 2000 and 2008, worked with Manafort on what was believed to be pro-Putin work, according to another McCain aide John Weaver who spoke with Circa.
Davis was connected to Deripaska by 2005 and was possibly fostering Putin propaganda that worked against U.S. interests. Deripaska is one of the world’s wealthiest men and a close Putin ally.
Putin has always looked to influence U.S. politicians. This is nothing new.
U.S. intelligence warned McCain’s inner circle of Davis’s and Manafort’s possible ties to the Russian military as far back as 2005.
Davis was asked to leave the campaign in mid-2000 because of his ties and, ironically, he went to work with Manafort. In 2006, Davis and Manafort arranged two meetings between McCain and Deripaska in group settings. Circa News describes the meetings in the article.
Davis ended up convincing McCain to take Manafort into the campaign.
“Davis repeatedly tried to bring Manafort into the McCain campaign and we were able to stop it and even have Davis removed for his ties to pro-Russian efforts,” Weaver said. “But this was short-lived as Davis actually and literally cried to the Senator every day for weeks until John relented and allowed Davis back.”
Weaver and others left the campaign during a shakeup in 2007 as money and support waned. When they left, Davis and his hacks returned, Weaver told Circa.
There’s no evidence these people influenced McCain’s Russian policy, just as there is no evidence it influenced Trump’s.
None of the contacts were illegal.