Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort linked to Ukraine corruption inquiry

Campaign chairman dismisses Ukrainian cash payments report as ‘nonsensical’

Paul Manafort: the New York Times said an examination of the activities of Manafort shows how he benefited from powerful interests in Ukraine that are now under scrutiny. Photograph: Eric Thayer/The New York Times

Paul Manafort: the New York Times said an examination of the activities of Manafort shows how he benefited from powerful interests in Ukraine that are now under scrutiny. Photograph: Eric Thayer/The New York Times

 

Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been drawn into an anti-corruption investigation by Ukrainian authorities examining whether he received illegal payments from the country’s former Russian-backed ruling party.

Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau is investigating whether Mr Manafort received off-the-books cash payments totalling $12.7 million (€11.3 million) from Ukraine’s former Kremlin-supported president Viktor Yanukovych as part of a wider inquiry into allegations of corruption in connection with the former leader.

Mr Manafort worked as a political consultant to Mr Yanukovych before he was ousted in February 2014 after months of anti-government protests.

Details of the investigation first surfaced in a New York Times report published on Sunday which revealed that Mr Manafort’s name had appeared in an handwritten ledger in connection with the cash payments between 2007 and 2012.

Ukraine’s anti-corruption bureau has confirmed that Mr Manafort’s name is listed on the handwritten ledger but said that this did not necessarily mean he received the money.

Mr Manafort described the New York Times report as “unfounded, silly and nonsensical” denying he had ever received an “off-the-books cash payment” and noting that the newspaper had “hesitantly” reported Ukrainian officials saying he had done nothing wrong.

Politically motivated

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“Once again the New York Times has chosen to purposefully ignore facts and professional journalism to fit their political agenda, choosing to attack my character and my reputation rather than present an honest report,” said Mr Manafort in a statement.

Before Mr Trump’s campaign chief responded, the Clinton campaign seized on the allegations late on Sunday night. Robby Mook, her campaign manager, called the latest revelations “more troubling connections” between Mr Trump’s team and pro-Kremlin elements in Ukraine.

“Given the pro-Putin policy stances adopted by Donald Trump and the recent Russian government hacking and disclosure of Democratic Party records, Donald Trump has a responsibility to disclose campaign chair Paul Manafort’s and all other campaign employees’ and advisers’ ties to Russian or pro-Kremlin entities,” said Mr Mook.

Mr Trump has been condemned for being pro-Russian and a self-professed admirer of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Fuelling further questions, Ivanka Trump, the billionaire’s daughter, posted a photograph on social media on Sunday showing her holidaying in Croatia with Wendi Deng Murdoch, the former wife of Rupert Murdoch who has been romantically linked to Mr Putin.

In his foreign policy speech in Youngstown, Ohio, yesterday, Mr Trump said that he believed he “could find common ground with Russia” in the fight against Islamic State.

“Wouldn’t that be a good thing?” he said.