We talked about this the other day. Donald Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort categorically denies allegations and dismisses them as “ridiculous” and “preposterous,” until a lazy media does its job and finally puts up the evidence that Manafort is lying.
Be careful what you ask for, “Comrade.” Trump advisers waged covert influence campaign:
A firm run by Donald Trump’s campaign chairman directly orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine’s ruling political party, attempting to sway American public opinion in favor of the country’s pro-Russian government, emails obtained by The Associated Press show. Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, never disclosed their work as foreign agents as required under federal law.
The lobbying included attempts to gain positive press coverage of Ukrainian officials in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press. Another goal: undercutting American public sympathy for the imprisoned rival of Ukraine’s then-president. At the time, European and American leaders were pressuring Ukraine to free her.
Gates personally directed the work of two prominent Washington lobbying firms in the matter, the emails show. He worked for Manafort’s political consulting firm at the time.
Manafort and Gates have previously said they were not doing work that required them to register as foreign agents. Neither commented when reached by the AP on Thursday.
The emails show Gates personally directed two Washington lobbying firms, Mercury LLC and the Podesta Group Inc., between 2012 and 2014 to set up meetings between a top Ukrainian official and senators and congressmen on influential committees involving Ukrainian interests. Gates noted in the emails that the official, Ukraine’s foreign minister, did not want to use his own embassy in the United States to help coordinate the visits.
Gates also directed the firms to gather information in the U.S. on a rival lobbying operation, including a review of its public lobbying disclosures, to determine who was behind that effort, the emails show.
And Gates directed efforts to undercut sympathy for Yulia Tymoshenko, an imprisoned rival of then-President Viktor Yanukovych. The Ukrainian leader eventually fled the country in February 2014 during a popular revolt prompted in part by his government’s crackdown on protesters and close ties to Russia.
The emails do not describe details about the role of Manafort, who was Gates’ boss at the firm, DMP International LLC. Current and former employees at Mercury and the Podesta Group, some of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because they are subject to non-disclosure agreements, told the AP that Manafort oversaw the lobbying efforts and spoke by phone about them.
Gates was directing actions and seeking information during the project using an email address at DMP International, which he still uses.
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Manafort also said in a statement earlier this week that he never performed work for the governments of Ukraine or Russia. Gates previously told the AP, “At no time did our firm or members provide any direct lobbying support.”
Ukraine’s anti-corruption body has also released entries from once-secret accounting documents that purport to show payments from the pro-Russian political party earmarked for Manafort. Ukraine Releases More Details on Payments for Trump Aide, Paul Manafort:
The Ukrainian authorities, under pressure to bolster their assertion that once-secret accounting documents show cash payments from a pro-Russian political party earmarked for Donald J. Trump’s campaign chairman, on Thursday released line-item entries, some for millions of dollars.
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[A] former party member, Vitaly A. Kalyuzhny, for a time chairman of the Ukraine Parliament’s International Relations Committee, had signed nine times for receipt of payments designated for the Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, according to Serhiy A. Leshchenko, a member of Parliament who has studied the documents. The ledger covered payments from 2007 to 2012, when Mr. Manafort worked for the party and its leader, Viktor F. Yanukovych, Ukraine’s former president who was deposed.
Mr. Kalyuzhny was also a founding board member of a Brussels-based nongovernmental organization, the European Center for a Modern Ukraine, that hired the Podesta Group, a Washington lobbying firm that received $1.02 million to promote an agenda generally aligned with the Party of Regions.
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Ukrainian officials emphasized that they did not know as yet if the cash payments reflected in the ledgers were actually made. In all 22 instances, people other than Mr. Manafort appear to have signed for the money. But the ledger entries are highly specific with funds earmarked for services such as exit polling, equipment and other services.
When your campaign manager becomes the story, it is time for him to go. Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort resigns:
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign endured another day of internal disruption Friday when Paul Manafort … abruptly resigned after a staff shake-up that had reduced his role.
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Whether Manafort’s resignation will lead to more staff exits was not clear Friday, though Trump advisers said Bannon and Conway are considering additional hires. The longtime GOP strategist had recruited a number of former associates to join the campaign after he arrived in the spring.
USA Today reported earlier this morning that Manafort’s deputy Rick Gates is also resigning. This was incorrect.
Rick Gates, who has been Manafort’s influential deputy, will stay on and be based in Washington, according to Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller, “taking over as the campaign’s liaison” to the RNC.
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Eventually, Manafort’s background caught up with him. According to two people familiar with Trump’s decision, Trump on Thursday night was given a copy of an Associated Press story about how Manafort’s firm had not properly disclosed its foreign lobbying, shortly before taking the stage in North Carolina. Trump “blew a gasket,” one person said, and told Bannon and others that he should be dismissed.
But Manafort was not fired, the people said. Instead, he was told in candid terms Trump’s view and he prepared to resign. These exchanges were first reported by the New York Times.
Associates of Manafort said Friday that it was clear that he was taking a calculated risk by joining Trump’s campaign. “He knows he’s been doing this stuff,” the GOP strategist said. “It was going to become an issue. He wasn’t prepared to tamp it down. When he decided to re-enter high-profile American politics and he ratcheted it up with lots of Sunday shows and TV appearances, he had to know he was putting himself out there as a target.”
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Manafort is leaving on good terms with the campaign and will remain an ally and outside confidant of the operation, according to a close associate of his. Manafort had an easy rapport with Conway and Bannon in meetings this week but was inclined to leave to give them room to develop and execute their own strategy, aides said.
Hmmm, so Manafort is still advising the Trump campaign, and his deputy Rick Gates, who is also up to his neck in this pro-Russian lobbying scandal, is still working with the campaign, and the RNC. It seems that Manafort is just returning to the shadows where he can still operate as Putin’s controller of the Kremlin Candidate.