Trump campaign manager Manafort offered to brief Russian billionaire during 2016 race: Washington Post

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign chair and convention manager Paul Manafort appears at a press conference at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, offered to provide briefings to a Russian billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin on the status of the 2016 U.S. presidential election less than two weeks before Trump accepted the Republican nomination, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

“If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” Manafort wrote in an email to an overseas intermediary between him and aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, the Post reported, citing people familiar with the discussions. The Post said portions of the July 7, 2016, email were read to it, as were other parts of Manafort’s correspondence.

The email was one of tens of thousands of documents turned over to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the Post reported, who along with several congressional committees is investigating alleged Russian efforts to tip the 2016 election in Trump’s favor and whether any members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow’s effort.

Mueller’s office declined to comment on the Post story. Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni told Reuters the emails were an attempt by Manafort to collect unpaid debts. Maloni told the Post that no briefings took place.

The Post said there was no evidence Deripaska ever received Manafort’s alleged offer or that any briefings took place. A spokesman for Deripaska told the paper the emails were scheming by “consultants in the notorious ‘beltway bandit’ industry.”

Russia has denied it interfered in the U.S. election, and Trump has said there was no collusion with his campaign.

Reporting by Justin Mitchell; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Jonathan Oatis