Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia and Ukraine are again in the spotlight following a report that a pro-Russia group had earmarked millions of dollars in cash payments to Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort.
The New York Times reports anti-corruption investigators in Ukraine have uncovered secret documents showing $12.7 million USD in undisclosed cash payments designated for Manafort from former president Viktor Yanukovych.
The handwritten ledgers date between 2007 and 2012.
The Times article says Manafort was an adviser to the former Ukrainian president. During his tenure as Ukraine’s president Yanukovich increasingly strengthened ties with Russia, and abandoned a trade deal with the European Union in the process.
Yanukovych was ousted in 2014 following months of deadly anti-government protests, and fled to Russia.
Manafort, a seasoned lobbyist and political adviser, joined Trump’s team this spring. He has worked on the campaigns of past U.S. presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush
Manafort hit back at the claims Monday accusing The Times of ignoring facts and attacking his character “to fit their political agenda.”
“I have never received a single ‘off-the-books cash payment’ as falsely ‘reported’ by The New York Times,” Manafort said in a statement. “Nor have I ever done work for the governments of Ukraine or Russia.”
While he disputed the article, he did not demand a retraction.
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said in a statement Monday that The Times‘ allegations are “troubling.”
“Given the pro-Putin policy stances adopted by Donald Trump and the recent Russian government hacking and disclosure of Democratic Party records, 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,” Mook said.
Trump’s stance on Russia and Putin has raised eyebrows in the past, including the Republican nominee’s suggestion Russia try to dig up Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. (He later said he was being sarcastic.)
Trump largely skims the surface when questioned on Vladimir Putin’s policies and the ties between Russia and the U.S.
“I don’t think Putin has any respect whatsoever for Clinton, I think he does respect me. And I hope I get along great with him — it’s possible that we won’t,” Trump said in late July.
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Putin has said “really bad things,” Trump acknowledged, but says he hopes to strengthen ties with Russia.
“I hope that we get along great with Putin, because it would be great to have Russia, with a good relationship. Right now we don’t have a good relationship.”
“President Trump would be so much better for U.S.-Russian relations. You can’t be worse.”