Paul Manafort's Firm Received Payments Listed In Secret Ukrainian Ledger
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
A few months before President Trump won the election, his campaign manager Paul Manafort quit. There were questions about work Manafort had done for Ukraine's former pro-Kremlin president. Today, the Associated Press reports that Paul Manafort's firm did receive payments from that Ukrainian leader as documented in a secret ledger. NPR's Lucian Kim says Paul Manafort's name keeps popping up as the Ukrainians investigate.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).
LUCIAN KIM, BYLINE: Passengers crowd into a departing trolley bus outside the McDonald's off Kiev's central square, the Maidan.
(SOUNDBITE OF BUS DOOR SHUTTING)
KIM: Across from the bus stop on Sofiiska Street is a century-old, five-story brick building where Paul Manafort used to work while he was advising former President Viktor Yanukovych who fled to Russia after anti-government protesters were gunned down on the Maidan in 2014. Manafort's work for the old Ukrainian government is coming back to haunt him as documents keep emerging to allegedly show how and how much Yanukovych paid him.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
SERHIY LESHCHENKO: This document was found in the office of Paul Manafort in Kiev on Sofiiska Street number four. And this is the source of this information.
KIM: In March, Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy Leshchenko presented papers he said showed that on one occasion, Yanukovych used offshore bank accounts and phony invoices to pay Manafort $750,000. The Associated Press says it's confirmed that the same amount was received by Manafort's consulting firm in the U.S. Last summer, Manafort's name appeared in a so-called black ledger allegedly detailing Yanukovych's secret cash payments to political allies. That had repercussions in the Trump campaign, as covered by ABC News at the time.
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UNIDENTIFIED JOURNALIST: Donald Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is out of a job. Manafort resigned under intense scrutiny for alleged illicit payments he may have received while representing a pro-Russian Ukrainian leader. Manafort denies any wrongdoing.
KIM: Manafort, who also once worked for a Kremlin-connected Russian tycoon, was the first Trump adviser forced to sever connections because of his links to Moscow. A month later, the campaign denied any formal ties to Carter Page, an American investor focused on Russia whom Trump had called a foreign policy adviser.
Then, after the inauguration, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn quit because of conversations he had had with the Russian ambassador. Back in Kiev, I spoke to Taras Chornovil, a former Yanukovych confidant.
TARAS CHORNOVIL: (Foreign language spoken).
KIM: Chornovil says he clashed with Manafort over election strategy. He accuses Manafort of arguing for closer integration with Russia and against Ukraine joining NATO. But not everyone in Kiev shares such bad memories of Manafort. Andriy Yermolayev is a former Yanukovych adviser who met the American regularly.
ANDRIY YERMOLAYEV: (Foreign language spoken).
KIM: "I absolutely don't agree with the way Manafort is characterized now," Yermolayev says, "because he had his principles and supported Ukraine joining the West." Manafort is not the subject of any investigation by the Ukrainian authorities.
SERHIY GORBATYUK: (Foreign language spoken).
KIM: But Ukrainian prosecutor Serhiy Gorbatyuk says they want to know more about Manafort's contacts with Yanukovych at the time of the Maidan shootings. Manafort declined to comment to NPR, saying only that he hopes Ukrainian investigators will look into an apparent attempt to blackmail him with compromising material. Lucian Kim, NPR News, Kiev.
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