Former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort received tens of millions of dollars from a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin to unofficially lobby for the Russian government, reports The Associated Press. Manafort was forced to resign from the Trump campaign after the AP revealed he was working to advance the interests of a failing pro-Putin satellite government.
Beginning in 2006, Oleg Deripaska, a known Putin proxy, paid Manafort $10 million on an annual contract to sway politics and news coverage within the U.S. and Europe to favor the Russian government, the AP reported. This went on until at least 2009.
“We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Manafort wrote in a 2005 memo, according to the AP. “[The effort] will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.”
While President Trump’s administration has actively denied that Manafort worked to advance Putin’s worldview, the documents AP managed to obtain include strategies to do just that, as well as invoices for international wire transfers worth millions of dollars.
Manafort told the AP that he may have worked for Deripaska, but that he didn’t advocate for Russian interests, despite the overwhelming evidence that the documents offer. He added, “I look forward to meeting with those conducting serious investigations of these issues.”
The AP reports that Deripaska saw his personal fortune grow to astronomical amounts under Putin’s rule and that U.S. diplomatic cables have characterized him as “among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis” and “a more-or-less permanent fixture on Putin’s trips abroad.”
Meanwhile, Manafort was forced to resign from the Trump campaign after the AP revealed that he had orchestrated a covert lobbying campaign for a pro-Putin Ukrainian government in danger of losing its grasp on power.
Members of the U.S. Congress have not taken these allegations lightly.
“Clearly, if he’s getting millions of dollars from a billionaire close to Putin, to basically undermine democratic movements, that’s something I’d want to know about. I doubt if Trump knew about it,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told the AP. “I don’t know if he violated the Foreign Agent Registration Act, but it’s something I think we all need to know more about.”
Others, such as Republican Sen. John McCain, felt this new report offered even more evidence that an independent congressional committee needs to look into Trump’s past, which seems more checkered by the day.
House Democrats on the intelligence committee appear to agree.
“[This new revelation] undermines the groundless assertions that the administration has been making that there are no ties between President Trump and Russia. This is not a drip, drip, drip,” said Rep. Jackie Speier of California. “This is now dam-breaking with water flushing out with all kinds of entanglements.”
She added that they would investigate these new documents within their Congressional authority.
Next, check out how Trump’s defense secretary said climate change is real and has major military implications, before finding out why George W. Bush has rebuked Trump’s travel ban, his Russian connections and the attacks on free press.