Caputo: Caught in the Web

— Former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo paid his own PR firm to purge Wikipedia of his long-standing political ties to Russia

Michael Caputo (source)

According to Wikipedia editing records, Caputo recently paid Zeppelin Communications, a PR firm he co-founded in 2015 with Russian club owner Sergey George Petrushin, to delete evidence that he helped promote Russian President Vladimir Putin in the United States.

The edits were made two weeks after Caputo testified privately to the House Intelligence Committee about Donald Trump’s “tarantula web” of ties to Russia.

Caputo was brought onto Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign as communications adviser by his close associate, political strategist Paul Manafort.

Paul Manafort (source)

On Monday, Manafort was indicted on 12 charges including “conspiracy against the United States” as part of an investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is examining allegations of possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.

In July, Caputo’s firm launched a disruptive editing campaign to delete “disputed information” about his personal life and political career from Wikipedia, including his previous admission to The Buffalo News that in 2000 he was hired by pro-Russian news network Gazprom Media “to burnish Putin’s image in the United States.

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The firm also sought to add its own “properly sourced information” about Caputo, including that he “denies ever working for Putin, and scoffs at…accusations that he was ‘Putin’s image maker.’”

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Other noteworthy additions to Caputo’s life and career include that “he lived aboard a tugboat with a parrot,” and that his “work on high-profile campaigns drew attention because of his trademark use of volunteers in chicken suits and deploying strippers outside a debate.”

In August, an investigation by Wikipedia administrators determined that the edits were made by one person using multiple sockpuppet accounts.

The culprit, using the pseudonym “Baldassn,” subsequently admitted that they had been “paid by Zeppelin Communications on behalf of Michael R. Caputo” to make the edits.

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Zeppelin Communications PR account executive Sean Dwyer, who shares his last name with the main sock account, “DwyerSP,” and whose Twitter handle is “@DwyerSP,” appears to be the person behind the accounts.

From Russia with Business

— Former senior Trump campaign advisor Michael Caputo gave a talk at a Russian-American business/commerce event two months before denying Russia ties

— Former Trump campaign lawyer Kendall Coffey also spoke at the event

In an interview with CNN last month, Caputo, a former senior advisor to Donald Trump’s campaign with strong ties to Russia, “firmly denied” any knowledge of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Michael Caputo (source)

Caputo’s comments came shortly after he testified privately to the U.S. House Intelligence committee, which examined Trump’s “tarantula web” of ties to Russia, including Caputo’s work for a pro-Russian news network in the early 2000s.

In his closing statement to the committee, Caputo said that he no longer had any Russian clients, and had not had any business with Russia since 2004.

However, just two months before testifying, Caputo gave a talk about lifting Russian sanctions at a Miami, Florida event organised by the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce (RACC), an Atlanta, Georgia non-profit organisation.

The RACC website states:

The Russian American Chamber of Commerce in the USA (THE CHAMBER) is one of the main business organizations in the USA that assists U.S. companies in CIS market entry…THE CHAMBER facilitates cooperation for U.S. members with the Russian Government, Russian Regional Administrations, U.S. Consulates in Russia, Chambers of Commerce in Russia, and corporate leaders from CIS countries.

In March, RACC founder Sergei Millian (birth name Siarhei Kukuts) was named as the source of allegations about Trump’s “long-standing relationship with Russian officials.”

Left: Sergei Millian AKA Siarhei Kukuts (source)

A 2009 RACC newsletter claimed that RACC had “signed formal agreements” with the Trump Organization. A Russian PR awards site also states that Millian worked with the Trump Organization.

During his talk, Caputo said he believed the U.S. government would lift sanctions on Russia within two years, that the Trump investigation would uncover “zero collusion,” and that the “investigation will lose steam.” He also touched on his personal relationship with Trump, stating: “We talk a lot.”

Kendall Coffey, a Miami-based lawyer who represented former Trump aide Corey Lewandowski, also spoke at the event.