East County News Service
August 17, 2016 (Kiev) — Ukraine’s new anti-corruption bureau has revealed that handwritten ledgers list $12.7 million in secret and illegal cash payments earmarked for Paul Manafort, campaign chairman for Donald Trump, from 2007-2012, the New York Times reports. Manafort was a consultant at the time for Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian president later deposed.
Criminal prosecutors are also investigating allegations that Manafort set up an offshore shell company to launder money for a Russian oligarch, Oleg Derepaska close ally of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
Manafort has denied receiving any of that $12.7 million in cash, though if such a transaction did occur it could be untraceable.
Oddly, Manafort has told the Los Angeles Times previously that he is an unpaid volunteer working free for the Trump campaign, despite the fact that he’s previously been a hired consultant for a variety of high profile clients including Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos and former U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
Is he really unpaid, or could he be getting cash under the table from another source, such as Putin or Russian organized crime interests seeking to influence U.S. policy?
Hillary Clinton's campaign manager Robby Mook has issued this statement, the BBC reports: "Donald Trump has a responsibility to disclose campaign chair Paul Manafort's and all other campaign employees' and advisers' ties to Russian or pro-Kremlin entities, including whether any of Trump's employees or advisers are currently representing and or being paid by them."
Trump has baffled political pundits with his unabashed admiration for Putin. The Atlantic reports that Trump has offered “the most pro-Kremlin slate of statements of any U.S. presidential candidate since Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party campaign of fellow travel in 1948. Trump has suggested that NATO is obsolete and should be dismantled or drastically scaled back. He’s indicated he would not necessarily come to the aid of NATO allies in the event of a Russian attack. He spoke about conceding Russian annexation of Crimea, a region of Ukraine that Moscow annexed in 2014, in what the global community almost universally views as a violation of international law.
In addition, the Atlantic notes, “Trump has expressed his admiration for Putin’s style of leadership, expressed hope that the two men would get along well, and claimed that he knew Putin, only to say later that they had never met.”
The Republican Party platform shifted to pro-Russian stances, including dropping an agreement to arm the Ukraine against Russia, sparking outrage among some conservatives. The Los Angeles Times reports that Manafort and the Trump campaign were suspected to be behind these changes, though the Trump team has denied this.
The Democratic National Committee has blamed Russia for hacks into emails between the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Trump himself publicly called for Russia to hack in and get Clinton’s missing emails, but later claimed he was joking.
Conservative columnist George Will said on Fox News earlier this week that one of the reasons Trump may be refusing to release his tax returns is that they may show "he is deeply involved in dealing with Russian oligarchs,"CNN’S Money has reported.
Will also warned about Trump’s ties in a recent Washington Post editorial ,in which Will urged voters to read Franklin Foer’s Slate essay “Putin’s Puppet”. That essay states,” …we should think of the Trump campaign as the moral equivalent of Henry Wallace’s communist-infiltrated campaign for president in 1948.” Foer concluded, “A foreign power that wishes ill upon the United States has attached itself to a major presidential campaign.”
.According to a Washington Post investigation, “Since the 1980s, Trump and his family members have made numerous trips to Moscow in search of business opportunities, and they have relied on Russian investors to buy their properties around the world. “Trump’s son, Donald Jr. told a real estate conference in 2008, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump’s according to an account posted on the website of eTurboNews, a trade publication. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
Why might Trump turn to Russian financiers? New York Magazine has observed,” Trump’s habit of refusing to pay back people who loan him money means regular American banks won’t lend him money anymore, making him dependent on unusual sources of financing.”
Just how much does Trump owe to Russian financiers of dubious character—and if elected President, what might he be willing to do to erase those debts? Do we want someone getting daily security briefings and access to nuclear launch codes to be beholden to foreign interests—especially Russia’s dictator or potentially, Russian criminal enterprises?
Trump, in a late July news conference, stated disingenuously, ““I have nothing to with Russia. I have nothing to do with Russia — for anything.” He then qualified that by saying he’d sold condos to Russians, the Washington Post reports. The Washington post gave Trump a four-Pinocchio rating, calling those statements “artfully deceiving.”
The Post documents numerous Trump family efforts through the years to secure major business deals in Russia, but notes that without seeing the tax returns Trump has refused to disclose, it is impossible to confirm how closely his business dealings in Russia may be.
A Slate magazine investigation has revealed other top Trump advisors with strong Russian ties and Trump’s own associations with Russian oligarchs, some with reported mob ties.
The magazine also discussed Putin’s pattern of stealthily meddling in other countries’ elections to install leaders supportive of pro-Putin policies.
Slate concludes with the observation that more and more political leaders and analysts on both sides of the political aisle are now voicing: ”Donald Trump is like the Kremlin’s favored candidates, only more so.”