Former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort said he used Fox News host Sean Hannity as a backchannel to President Trump during the Mueller probe, according to FBI memos obtained by BuzzFeed News.
The memos, which include summaries of FBI interviews with Trump world officials, show that Manafort did not speak directly with Trump or his legal team after The New York Times reported on his involvement in a 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and a Kremlin-linked lawyer who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Manafort said he only spoke to Hannity, who he described as a close friend and “certainly a backchannel” to Trump.”
Hannity reassured Manafort:
“Manafort knew Hannity was speaking to Trump because Hannity would tell Manafort to hang in there, that he had been talking to Trump, that Trump had his back, and things like that,” the memos said. “Manafort understood his conversations with Hannity to be a message from Trump.”
The documents noted that Manafort could communicate with Trump through other intermediaries but “never did so.”
Texts show close ties between Manafort and Hannity:
Private text messages between Manafort and Hannity showed the two frequently communicating during Manafort’s legal battle.
Hannity told Manafort that he was “NOT a fair weather friend,” and insisted they were “all on the same team.” Manafort told Hannity that “in a fair world, you would get a Pulitzer prize for your incredible reporting.”