The chief pollster for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign —who also worked with Paul Manafort in Ukraine —met with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators last year, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday.
Tony Fabrizio, a Brooklyn-born GOP pollster, was interviewed by Mueller’s team in February 2018, the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the New York Daily News.
The specifics of the interview were not immediately known but the revelation —first reported by CNN —comes on the heels of Manafort’s legal team inadvertently revealing in court papers that the incarcerated ex-Trump campaign chairman shared internal polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian operative suspected of having deep ties to the Kremlin’s top spy agency.
It was not immediately clear if Fabrizio, 59, played part in compiling the data Manafort shared with Kilimnik and the veteran Republican strategist could not be reached for comment.
The special counsel’s office declined to comment and so did a spokesman for Manafort.
During a political forum at Harvard University in October 2017, Fabrizio gushed about the uniqueness of Trump’s 2016 bid.
“You couldn’t put together the same group of people who elected Donald J. Trump president,” Fabrizio said. “They are not cohesive today.”
Mueller’s interest in Fabizio proves an intriguing twist, as the GOP politico did polling for Manafort while he worked as a lobbyist for pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine and later joined him on the Trump campaign.
Kilimnik’s interest in internal polling data is one of the strongest indications to date that the Trump campaign may have coordinated with the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 election.
It remains unclear what Kilimnik did with the data but he has extensive connections to Oleg Deripaska, a sanctioned Russian oligarch who is suspected of playing a large role in the Kremlin’s hacking of Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails.
Speaking to reporters Thursday morning, Trump denied any knowledge of Manafort forking over campaign data to the Russians.
“No, I didn’t know anything about that,” Trump said.
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democratic member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, says the Kilimnik connection adds the final piece to the collusion puzzle and leaves but one question unanswered.
“If the President’s campaign chairman was passing internal Trump campaign polling data to a Russian intelligence operative, I don’t know how the President can keep claiming ‘NO COLLUSION!’” Warner tweeted Wednesday. “My question is, what did the President know about Mr. Manafort’s collusion with Russian intelligence, and when did he know it?”