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How Moscow used ‘unconventional’ means to influence Trump’s policy

The Mueller report reveals new details about successful Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and establish communication with the Trump campaign. Special correspondent Ryan Chilcote, who lived in Russia for 20 years, tells Judy Woodruff about the “extraordinary lengths” the Kremlin went to in support of this goal and how Russian businessmen acted as policy intermediaries.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Let's move now to reaction outside the United States.

    Our special correspondent, Ryan Chilcote, lived in Russia for 20 years. He is in Moscow tonight to tell us what the Kremlin had to say about the Mueller report and to help us flesh out some of the details of what the Russians did in 2016.

    Ryan, as we mentioned, you lived there for a long time. You have had contacts with Russian officials over the years. What is standing out to you tonight?

  • Ryan Chilcote:

    What stands out to me, Judy, is the extraordinary lengths and unconventional approaches that the Kremlin took to establish off-the-radar, direct communications with the Trump administration in the lead-up — during the campaign, in the lead-up to the inauguration and after.

    For example, Mueller lays out how the head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund, a banker, reached out to one of Jared Kushner's friends, a banker, to work on a — what was effectively a Russian-American peace plan, a way of reconciling differences between the two countries, acting as an intermediary for the Russian president.

    Another example, we know that Paul Manafort, who was, as you know, obviously, the campaign manager for the Trump administration for much of 2016, he reached out to someone that he had worked with, a Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, who I interviewed earlier this week, that he had done consulting with before, a number of years before.

    And he offered him information about the campaign, polling data, at least according to Mueller, in the lead-up and after the actual election to settle a debt, to settle a legal dispute that he had with Oleg Deripaska.

    Now, when I interviewed Deripaska, he said that the last communication he or any of his representatives had with Paul Manafort was back in 2010 or 2011. But Mueller says it was in 2017, and they were discussing foreign policy.

    A third banker also said that he reached out and — to the U.S. administration on behalf of the Russian president to establish a back channel. He said that. He was subpoenaed by Mueller and himself said that, all, he said, because President Putin asked him, because the Putin administration, the Kremlin, was desperate to get some kind of dialogue going…

  • Judy Woodruff:

    It looks like we may have lost the connection to Moscow and to Ryan Chilcote.

    We're going to try to get that back up. But it looks like we do not have it right now. We will take a short break. We will be right back.

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