Just days before Donald Trump's inauguration as the 45th President of the United States, his former campaign chief, Paul Manafort, attempted to contact a soon to be administration advisor about a meeting with "Castro's son," according to a recently released U.S. Senate report.
The Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election claimed that on January 15, 2017, Manafort sent an email to Kathleen T. McFarland, who would later serve as the Deputy National Security Advisor for the Trump administration.
The email asked for an informal meeting to discuss "some important information" Manafort had obtained during his travels in December, the report says.
Manafort later claimed to investigators that the information pertained to a meeting he had with "Castro's son" in Havana, Cuba, which was arranged by Brad Zackson, the former exclusive broker for Trump's father, Fred.
The report does not identify "Castro's son" nor does it mention the contents of the meeting, but it refers to a redacted source that shows Manafort and Zackson on the same flight booking to Havana.
Before responding to Manafort's email, the report says McFarland inquired with soon to be National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, to see whether or not she should accept the meeting.
Flynn reportedly recommended not meeting with Manafort until the two were "in the hot seats," which the report presumes was a reference to their taking officials roles in the U.S. government.
Paul Manafort served as Trump's campaign chairman between March and August 2016. Manafort left the campaign following media reports about his work in Ukraine.
He was eventually convicted on Aug. 21, 2018, of eight felony counts involving tax and bank fraud and failure to file a report of foreign bank and financial accounts.
Manafort pleaded guilty to more charges in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 14, 2018.
In March 2019, Manafort was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison in total by two different judges, before being hit with state charges in New York over allegedly lying on mortgage applications.
In response to reports of Manafort's meeting, Joe Biden's campaign released a statement, saying:
"This news is disturbing, but not surprising. Donald Trump and his cronies love to talk tough when it comes to Cuba and other dictatorships, while continuing to engage in corruption, hypocrisy, and above all else, a willingness to put personal gain over U.S. national interests. The fact that Paul Manafort, his campaign chairman, visited Cuba in 2017, underscores that when it comes to Cuba, Trump and his inner circle are all about putting themselves first. Don’t be fooled, the Trump Administration doesn’t care to hold the Cuban or Venezuelan regimes accountable, and they’re not trying to make things better for Cubans or Venezuelans -- they just want to take advantage of the situation for personal and political gain."