Paul Manafort and Ukraine

Black Ledger
A page from the “black ledger” implicating Manafort in corruption in Ukraine.

During 2006–2007, Paul Manafort leveraged contacts with American diplomats to help pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych win elections and return to office as Prime Minister of Ukraine. Source1 Source2 From 2007–2012, Yanukovych’s Party of Regions paid at least $12.7 million in kick-backs to Paul Manafort. The previously undisclosed payments to Manafort were revealed by a “black ledger,” a handwritten document found in the deposed Party’s headquarters in a room with two safes stuffed with cash, as part of an ongoing investigation by Ukraine’s new government’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators say Ukraine election officials were among other recipients of the payouts documented in the black ledger, suggesting Ukraine elections were rigged via bribery. Source

Journalists have corroborated several of the black ledger entries showing payments to Manafort, which were routed to Manafort through shell companies in Belize. Source

 

From 2012–2014, Manafort’s consulting firm DMP International LLC, and his deputy Rick Gates’s Washington lobbying firms Mercury LLC and the Podesta Group Inc., orchestrated a covert lobbying operation on behalf of Yanukovych’s party to sway American public opinion in their favor and to undercut sympathy for their rival party’s leader Yulia Tymoshenko, imprisoned at the time. Their efforts included setting up meetings between US senators and congressmen with a Ukraine foreign minister (but avoiding the Ukrainian embassy to remain covert), and attempting to sway press coverage in the NYT, WSJ, and AP. Neither Manafort nor Gates, nor their firms, registered as foreign agents or disclosed their work to the DOJ as required by law. Source In 2014, Paul Manafort again helped Yanukovych and his party in a Ukrainian election. Source

In 2014, the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court granted a FISA warrant to begin surveillance of Paul Manafort, including wiretapping his communications. The surveillance continued under this warrant until being discontinued at some point in 2016. Source

In 2017, Manafort updated his official filings to admit receipt of $17.1 million for his work with the Party of Regions, and would retroactively register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Source

Nevertheless, FARA violations based on these activities were among the charges for which both Manafort and Gates were indicted on October 30, 2017. Source

Discussion

This Manafort-led propaganda effort appears very similar to the disinformation campaign waged by Russia in connection with the hacked emails they fed to Wikileaks. If the conspiracy is real, it seems they picked the right guy to help in Manafort.