Newly disclosed documents reveal former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort secretly worked to benefit Putin.
Paul Manafort Secretly Worked To Influence U.S. Politics, Business, Media To Benefit Putin.
In an explosive new expose, the Associated Press revealed on Wednesday that Paul Manafort, who ran Trump’s campaign from April to August 2016, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to “greatly benefit” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interests a decade ago.
Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse. Manafort pitched the plans to Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort eventually signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006, according to interviews with several people familiar with payments to Manafort and business records obtained by the AP. Manafort and Deripaska maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, according to one person familiar with the work.
“We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Manafort wrote in the 2005 memo to Deripaska. The effort, Manafort wrote, “will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.”
Manafort’s plans were laid out in documents obtained by the AP that included strategy memoranda and records showing international wire transfers for millions of dollars. How much work Manafort performed under the contract was unclear.
Manafort denies any wrong doing. As the Associated Press continues:
In a statement to the AP, Manafort confirmed that he worked for Deripaska in various countries but said the work was being unfairly cast as “inappropriate or nefarious” as part of a “smear campaign.”
“I worked with Oleg Deripaska almost a decade ago representing him on business and personal matters in countries where he had investments,” Manafort said. “My work for Mr. Deripaska did not involve representing Russia’s political interests.”
Mother Jones adds that:
The bombshell report appears to contradict Manafort’s repeated denials that he worked to advance Russian political interests. The longtime lobbyist and onetime partner of Trump ally Roger Stone, was forced to resign as Trump’s campaign chairman after multiple reports revealed his work for deposed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Russian Ukrainian party, including allegations (denied by Manafort) of $12.7 million in undisclosed payments made to Manafort.
FBI Director James Comey on Monday confirmed the bureau is probing Russia’s meddling in the 2016 race, including possible collusion between Moscow and members of Trump’s campaign. The bombshell revelation has brought new scrutiny to Manafort and other former Trump campaign officials with possible ties to Russia.
These revelations come in the wake of a report that Manafort hired a crisis communications firm after other allegations of him receiving Russian payments emerged.
According to a separate report by The Hill, “The move comes as Manafort faces scrutiny over possible ties to Russia centered on his past consulting work for officials in Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s pro-Russia government.”
The Hill continued their report, stating:
The New York Times on Monday night reported that documents had surfaced apparently showing that the Party of Regions — Yanukovych’s political party — funneled $750,000 to Manafort through an offshore account, listing it as a payment for 501 computers.
The documents, released to the Times by a member of Ukraine’s parliament, have not been independently verified by other media outlets. Serhiy Leshchenko, that politician, said the 2009 invoice is an attempt to hide the payment for work Manafort did for the pro-Russia political party.
Meanwhile, the White House is attempting to distance themselves from Manafort, with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer describing Manafort as someone who “played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time,” during a Tuesday press meeting.