AP findings on Trump associate's work for Russian oligarch

Miranda GreerApr 04, 2017

U.S. Treasury Department agents have recently obtained information about offshore financial transactions involving President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman as part of a federal anti-corruption probe into his work in Eastern Europe.

"Manafort's consulting work in Ukraine was already under a microscope, given Trump's favorable comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin, an ally of Yanukovych's".

In 2005 a memo obtained by the AP, Manafort lays out a strategy that, "can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success".

The latest disclosure adds new intrigue as the FBI investigates whether Russian Federation attempted to influence last year's US presidential election in favor of Trump, and whether the Trump campaign cooperated in such an endeavor.

Manafort later signed a contract with the Russian magnate, Oleg Deripaska, that paid Manafort $10 million a year. Their business relationship lasted through at least 2009, according to Day's story for the AP.

He was known to have routed financial transactions through Cyprus, according to records of worldwide wire transfers obtained by the AP and public court documents filed in a 2014 legal dispute in the Cayman Islands.

If his lobbying work with Deripaska wasn't classified as political but business-related, Manafort would still be subject to the much less stringent Lobbying Disclosure Act, Joseph Sandler, a lawyer specializing in FARA and former general counsel for the Democratic National Committee, told Business Insider.

'I worked with Oleg Deripaska nearly a decade ago representing him on business and personal matters in countries where he had investments, ' Manafort said. United States diplomatic cables from 2006 described him as "among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis" and "a more-or-less permanent fixture on Putin's trips abroad".

A veteran of Republican conventions stretching back to Ford's 1976 campaign, Manafort was hired last March to manage Trump's delegate operation when it appeared the candidate might face a floor fight at the convention and his campaign was struggling.

Now, as the focus on Manafort's ties to Russian Federation increases, descriptions of his place in the campaign have shrunk.

The newly obtained business records link Manafort more directly to Putin's interests in the region.

Manafort has an apartment at Trump Tower in NY and is a veteran of politics and lobbying; his career stretches back to Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.

The Trump administration probably could have done without any more bombshell revelations this week, trapped as it is in a struggle to pass the House attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act even as it deals with the news that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether the president's campaign advisers colluded with Russian intelligence agencies during the election.

Manafort worked as Trump's unpaid campaign chairman previous year from March until August when Trump asked Manafort to resign after the AP revealed that Manafort had orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation until 2014 on behalf of Ukraine's ruling pro-Russian political party. The Moscow office never opened.

Mr Manafort confirmed that he worked for Mr Deripaska but said the work was being unfairly cast as inappropriate.

No US criminal charges have ever been filed in the case. No one mentioned Deripaska. However, as Comey was testifying at Monday's House Intelligence hearing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer falsely claimed that Manafort played a "very limited role" in Trump's campaign.

Pick any decade over the past half-century, and Paul Manafort has had a starring role in the rise (and maybe fall) of somebody big.

Mr Manafort and his associates remain in Mr Trump's orbit. Manafort told a colleague this year that he continues to speak with Trump by telephone.

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