A Russian aluminum magnate with ties to President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort is suing the Associated Press for libel over its reporting on the pair’s relationship.
Lawyers for Oleg Deripaska filed the suit Monday in federal court in Washington, claiming that the CEO of the Russian firm United Company RUSAL was defamed by a March AP story reporting about business dealings between Deripaska and Manafort.
The suit alleges that the AP report was libelous because it falsely implied that Deripaska was paying Manafort for work aimed at advancing the goals of the Russian government and Russian president Vladimir Putin. The suit also says the article created a false impression that Deripaska’s dealings with Manafort were intertwined with the Trump campaign when that work ended by 2009 and that Deripaska is tied to ongoing investigations of alleged theft of assets from Ukraine after the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.
The AP story disclosed a proposal Manafort allegedly sent Deripaska in 2005, offering to provide services that “can greatly benefit the Putin Government.” The suit alleges that proposal former no part of any work Manafort did for the Russian oligarch.
“The Article is structured to imply falsely that Mr. Deripaska’s commercial dealings from the period between 2005 and 2009 were somehow related to alleged criminal conduct and improprieties related to the campaign of then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and the 2016 U.S. Presidential election,” Deripaska’s suit says.
The suit also rejects claims that Deripaska contracted with Manafort to undercut grassroots political groups in Ukraine.
“The AP had (and has) no basis for reporting that any contract between Mr. Deripaska and Mr. Manafort provided for the undermining of democratic movements,” the suit says. “Mr. Deripaska did not make any payments to Mr. Manafort to undermine democratic movements.”
Deripaska’s suit says that his lawyers asked AP for a retraction and correction in late March but the news agency refused.
Spokespeople for the AP did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday night. A lawyer for Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign manager from March to August of last year, also had no immediate response to a message seeking comment.
Deripaska is represented in the suit by the prominent U.S. law firm Boies Schiller.