Election 2016

Report: Pro-Russian Propagandists Earmarked Cash Payments for Trump’s Campaign Manager

This story blew up over the last 24 hours and while we already knew Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort worked for former Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovych, the New York Times reports that Manafort was afforded cash payments that were written down by hand.

The cash payments were reportedly uncovered by Ukrainian investigators who are looking into the former president's shadowy network.

Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials. [...]

Anti-corruption officials there say the payments earmarked for Mr. Manafort, previously unreported, are a focus of their investigation, though they have yet to determine if he actually received the cash.

Manafort responded to the New York Times through his personal lawyer who said Manafort never received the money, but consider me skeptical.

Manafort apparently signed a receipt for the cash payments, but Ukrainian investigators told ABC News that they haven't been able to confirm if the signature is actually his. Manafort also told ABC News that he "never received" any "off-the-books cash payment."

Aside from the obvious conflicts of interest, the significance of Manafort's compensation is that he never registered as a foreign agent with the Department of Justice and it's not clear if he broke any laws by not doing so.

The New York Times has a photo copy of the hand-written ledger you can view on the original story.

  • muselet

    This is a weird story.

    Paul Manafort was paid a lot of money by Viktor Yanukovych for his services, and fair enough. Even strongmen need political consultants in this day and age.

    But cash payments? Why? The Ukrainian equivalent of Christmas bonuses?

    And even if Manafort was doing something sleazy and illegal—which, I freely admit, assumes facts not in evidence—it’s not as if Yanukovych was terribly concerned with such niceties. Again, why cash?

    Or let’s assume there’s something fishy at the other end of this story, that the National Anti-Corruption Bureau is full of people who want to embarrass anyone who had any dealings with the former Ukrainian president. Why go to the trouble of forging 400 handwritten pages? And why implicate Paul Manafort?

    I expect this story to get even weirder in the next month or so.

    –alopecia

    • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

      Have you considered that it’s cash because foreign agents such as Manafort might want cash? It’s not so much that Yanukovych wasn’t concerned with such niceties, but that the people he was giving payments to wouldn’t want an electronic trail?

      Maybe? What do I know? I’m just speculating.

      • ninjaf

        How could he get that much cash deposited into his own accounts without raising some red flags from the banks? Unless the cash was then laundered before making its way into his accounts? I don’t know. It’s just all so strange.

        • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

          I don’t know. Has anyone checked to see if he has duffel bags full of bills in his attic?

        • Anything over $10,000 deposited in a bank account puts you on the Federal radar. However, I don’t know if that works with some foreign banks (like those lovely hidden accounts in the Bahamas).

      • muselet

        Manafort was being paid by Yanukovych’s government already, presumably by check.

        It is a puzzlement.

        –alopecia