Former Trump chairman Paul Manafort facing intense scrutiny over Ukraine lobbying, loans

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WASHINGTON, DC (LC)

Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, might formally register as a foreign agent, according to a spokesman. Reportedly, Manafort recently received “formal guidance” from the U.S. Justice Department advising that he register, retroactively, as a foreign agent for lobbying work done in Ukraine. The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), requires that “agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity” disclose their relationship with a foreign government, as well as “activities, receipts and disbursements” in support of those activities. FARA focuses on agents working with foreign powers to influence governmental decision-making, namely, lobbying. The FARA database is online and searchable.

Lobbying firms tied to Manafort in his prior work for the political party of ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych are in the process of registering with the Justice Department. Yanukovych’s party, the Russian-backed Party of Regions, was toppled by the 2014 “Euromaidan” revolution. The firms Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs lobbied for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a Brussels-based non-profit. Work lasted from 2012 to 2014 with $2.2 million in compensation, according to forms filed under the Lobbying Disclosure Act. Registering as foreign agents would result in a higher level of scrutiny into what services were rendered by the firms.

Last year, the Associated Press reported that Manafort’s firm, DMP International, introduced Mercury and Podesta Group to the Centre and assisted in directing some of their lobbying strategy. Within days of that report, Manafort left Trump’s campaign.

The New York Times reported today that on August 19, 2016, the day Manafort stepped down as chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, a shell company was formed, “controlled by Mr. Manafort” that received “$13 million in loans from two businesses with ties to Mr. Trump, including one that partners with a Ukrainian-born billionaire and another led by a Trump economic adviser.” According to the Times, these loans were among $20 million in loans secured by properties belonging to Manafort and his wife.

According to the Times, Manafort has declined to answer specific questions about any of his loans, stating, “There is nothing out of the ordinary about them” and “I am confident anyone who isn’t afflicted with scandal fever will come to the same conclusion.” Spokesman Jason Maloni said in a statement that Manafort’s lobbying for a foreign client ended before he began working on Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, and “was not conducted on behalf of the Russian government.”

Manafort is a figure in an FBI and congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, and he has offered to testify before both the House and Senate intelligence committees. As a result, his finances have been under intense scrutiny. Previous National Security Adviser Michael Flynn registered as a foreign agent last month after revelations that he had worked for the Turkish government.

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LIMA CHARLIE NEWS, NEW YORK BUREAU

1430 ZULU APR 12 2017

(THE HILL, NEW YORK TIMES AND THE AP CONTRIBUTED WITH INFORMATION TO THIS REPORT)

[Image: Marie Claire]

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