Ukrainian authorities have accused former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort of laundering money for the party of former Ukrainian president and pro-Putin stooge Viktor Yanukovych, and Manafort's ties to Yanukoyvch are fairly well known, but we now have a trail of evidence that leads directly to Vladimir Putin.
According to interviews and documents reviewed by the Associated Press, Manafort was paid handsomely to lobby directly for Putin's interests, not just his cronies.
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. [...]
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.
The Trump regime has been trying to distance themselves from Manafort by downplaying his role with the Trump campaign, but no one buys that. Manafort was his campaign manager for several months and he took over as manager of the GOP convention. It was at the GOP convention, as you might recall, that the party's official platform was amended to be more friendly to Russian interests by removing language that expressed support for Ukrainian sovereignty.
Manafort and the Trump campaign made a big deal out of him working for the campaign "for free," but it seems reasonable to assume he was being paid by someone at the time even if we don't know who it was yet. I have a hunch.
Manafort currently lives in Trump Tower, by the way. He always has.