Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was the target of a blackmail scheme orchestrated by a member of the Ukrainian parliament who threatened to reveal politically damaging information about Manafort and Trump to the media and the FBI, Politico reports. The attempt to blackmail Manafort was revealed after a phone belonging to his daughter was hacked and the contents were published on a “darknet website run by a hacktivist collective.”
Among the texts found in the hack was one that looks to be from Ukrainian parliamentarian Serhiy Leshchenko asking to get in touch with Manafort. Attached to that text is a note (shown below) that says the sender is in possession of damaging information linking Manafort to Viktor Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine who’s in exile in Russia and wanted for treason at home. It also mentions information about a 2012 meeting between Trump and Serhiy Tulub, an ally of Yanukovych’s. “I think you and Mr Trump will work out a way to solve this problem of yours,” the note reads, before threatening to deliver the information to the feds.
Leshchenko told Politico he did not write the text and called them “obviously fake” in a Facebook post. Manafort did confirm that the message was sent to his daughter and the hacked text did come from her phone. He received similar messages, he said, before she did and passed them to his lawyer. He also denied setting up a meeting between Trump and Tulub in 2012. Last August, Manafort resigned his position as Trump’s campaign chairman after his deep ties to Russia became a political problem for Trump.