CBS This Morning was the only network or cable morning news show to detail new reports on Paul Manafort’s work in support of Ukraine’s previous pro-Russian government. Several print and digital outlets had produced devastating reports that Manafort -- former campaign chairman for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump -- received potentially illegal payments, that he worked to influence U.S. opinion of the pro-Russian Ukrainian government, and that he helped set up protests against NATO troops including U.S. service members.
New Reports Detail Paul Manafort’s Shady And Potentially Illegal Relations With Ukraine’s Former Pro-Russian Government
AP: Manafort’s Firm ”Orchestrated A Covert” Lobbying Campaign For Ukraine’s Pro-Russian Government. The Associated Press reported that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s consulting firm “directly orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine's then-ruling political party,” which included “attempts to gain positive press coverage of Ukrainian officials” in major media outlets and aimed at “undercutting American public sympathy for the imprisoned rival of Ukraine's then-president.” The outlet also reported that Ukraine’s anti-corruption body “has released entries from once-secret accounting documents that purport to show payments from the pro-Russian political party earmarked for Manafort.” From the August 19 article:
A firm run by Donald Trump's campaign chairman directly orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine's then-ruling political party, attempting to sway American public opinion in favor of the country's pro-Russian government, emails obtained by The Associated Press show. Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, never disclosed their work as foreign agents as required under federal law.
The lobbying included attempts to gain positive press coverage of Ukrainian officials in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press. Another goal: undercutting American public sympathy for the imprisoned rival of Ukraine's then-president. At the time, European and American leaders were pressuring Ukraine to free her.
And Gates directed efforts to undercut sympathy for Yulia Tymoshenko, an imprisoned rival of then-President Viktor Yanukovych. The Ukrainian leader eventually fled the country in February 2014 during a popular revolt prompted in part by his government's crackdown on protesters and close ties to Russia.
Ukraine's anti-corruption body, meantime, has released entries from once-secret accounting documents that purport to show payments from the pro-Russian political party earmarked for Manafort.
The documents now released show Manafort's name listed as a recipient of funds totaling $12.7 million in 22 line-item entries. Ukraine's National Anti-Corruption Bureau said, however, that it cannot prove that Manafort actually received the money because other people including a prominent Party of the Regions deputy signed for him in those entries. [The Associated Press, 8/19/16]
Politico: Manafort Using Protégé With Links To Russian Intelligence Service To Collect Millions He’s Owed From Ukraine. Politico reported that Manafort “has been relying on a trusted protégé” with “links to Russia and its Ukrainian allies” in “an effort to collect previously undisclosed millions of dollars he’s owed by an oligarch-backed Ukrainian political party.” That protégé, who has claimed to have “a background with Russian intelligence,” has tried to collect Manafort’s unpaid fees and “continued to lead Manafort’s office”in Ukraine after former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych “fled the country for Russia in 2014.” From the August 18 article:
In an effort to collect previously undisclosed millions of dollars he’s owed by an oligarch-backed Ukrainian political party, Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been relying on a trusted protégé whose links to Russia and its Ukrainian allies have prompted concerns among Manafort associates, according to people who worked with both men.
The protégé, Konstantin Kilimnik, has had conversations with fellow operatives in Kiev about collecting unpaid fees owed to Manafort’s company by a Russia-friendly political party called Opposition Bloc, according to operatives who work in Ukraine.
A Russian Army-trained linguist who has told a previous employer of a background with Russian intelligence, Kilimnik started working for Manafort in 2005 when Manafort was representing Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, a gig that morphed into a long-term contract with Viktor Yanukovych, the Kremlin-aligned hard-liner who became president of Ukraine.
Kilimnik eventually became “Manafort’s Manafort” in Kiev, and he continued to lead Manafort’s office there after Yanukovych fled the country for Russia in 2014, according to Ukrainian business records and interviews with several political operatives who have worked in Ukraine’s capital. Kilimnik and Manafort then teamed up to help promote Opposition Bloc, which rose from the ashes of Yanukovych’s regime. The party is funded by oligarchs who previously backed Yanukovych, including at least one who the Ukrainian operatives say is close to both Kilimnik and Manafort. [Politico, 8/18/16]
Fusion: Manafort May Have Been Involved In Coordinating Pro-Russian Protests Against American Troops. Fusion reported that Manafort may have helped set up anti-NATO protests against U.S. military members in Ukraine during an “international training exercise set to involve 3,500 troops from the U.S., Ukraine, and 12 NATO partner countries.” The protests “forc[ed] cancellation of the exercise,” and “American diplomatic cables and Ukrainian prosecutors” claim the protests were “organized by politicians who consulted with Paul Manafort.” From the August 18 article:
Doman and his 112 reserve Marines and sailors were boarding the buses after dark, with backup from Ukrainian special forces, to get to a compound where they would lay the groundwork for Sea Breeze 2006, a larger international training exercise set to involve 3,500 troops from the U.S., Ukraine, and 12 NATO partner countries. But hundreds of protesters seemed to have come out of nowhere to confront them.
But the affair was an international incident nonetheless. After hunkering down in their compound for two weeks, the Marines boarded a jet under cover of darkness and returned home, their mission unfinished. The larger military exercise, an annual event to increase security cooperation between Ukraine and the US, was scrubbed entirely. President George W. Bush would subsequently cancel a planned trip to Ukraine later that month.
A decade later, the aborted exercise is arousing new interest: American diplomatic cables and Ukrainian prosecutors say the anti-US, anti-NATO protests that threatened these Marines were largely partisan plants, organized by politicians who consulted with Paul Manafort, now the prominent campaign aide to presidential candidate Donald Trump.
A memo leaked to the Times of London on Wednesday suggests Ukrainian prosecutors believe Manafort actively helped to foment unrest in the incident, one of a long line of provocations they say may have contributed to Eastern Ukraine’s secession from the country and Russia’s interference in the region, known as Crimea. The reason for the protests, prosecutors say, was to give Manafort’s clients a domestic political advantage. If that was the aim, they succeeded spectacularly.
In the Ukrainian government memo written last year and leaked to the Times of London this week, a senior prosecutor alleges that Manafort, in fact, “orchestrated” the Sea Breeze protests and other anti-NATO demonstrations, forcing cancellation of the exercise. “While I was in the Crimea I constantly saw evidence suggesting that Paul Manafort considered autonomy [from Ukraine] as a tool to enhance the reputation of Yanukovych and win over the local electorate,” the prosecutor wrote. Charges were ultimately not sought against Manafort sooner, he says, because vital evidence was lost after Yanukovych fled Ukraine and Russia annexed Crimea. [Fusion, 8/18/16]
NY Times: Member Of Ukraine’s Pro-Russian Party Signed Payments For Manafort. The New York Times reported that Ukrainian authorities released entries showing a member of Ukraine’s then-governing party had “signed nine times for receipt of payments designated for the Trump campaign chairman, Paul” Manafort.” From the August 18 article:
The Ukrainian authorities, under pressure to bolster their assertion that once-secret accounting documents show cash payments from a pro-Russian political party earmarked for Donald J. Trump’s campaign chairman, on Thursday released line-item entries, some for millions of dollars.
The revelations also point to an outsize role for a former senior member of the pro-Russian political party, the Party of Regions, in directing money to both Republican and Democratic advisers and lobbyists from the United States as the party tried to burnish its image in Washington.
The former party member, Vitaly A. Kalyuzhny, for a time chairman of the Ukraine Parliament’s International Relations Committee, had signed nine times for receipt of payments designated for the Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, according to Serhiy A. Leshchenko, a member of Parliament who has studied the documents. The ledger covered payments from 2007 to 2012, when Mr. Manafort worked for the party and its leader, Viktor F. Yanukovych, Ukraine’s former president who was deposed. [The New York Times, 8/18/16]
Following Reports, Manafort Resigns From Campaign
Trump Statement: “This Morning Paul Manafort Offered, And I Accepted, His Resignation From The Campaign.” Trump released a statement announcing that Manafort offered his resignation the morning of August 19, an offer Trump accepted, noting, “Paul is a true professional and I wish him the greatest success.” [DonaldJTrump.com, 8/19/16]
Only One Morning Show Covered The New Allegations Detailing Manafort’s Ties To Pro-Russian Groups
CBS This Morning: Ukrainian Prosecutors Believe Manafort May Be Guilty Of “Tax Evasion, Money Laundering, And Illegally Providing Funds For Lobbyists.” Reporting on the new developments, CBS’ Charlie D’Agata reported that Ukrainian prosecutors believe Manafort “may be guilty of tax evasion, money laundering, and illegally providing funds for lobbyists in the United States” and that “he should face questioning” in either Ukraine or the United States. From the August 19 edition of CBS This Morning:
MARGARET BRENNAN (CO-HOST): This morning, a Ukrainian lawmaker is revealing new details about millions of dollars in cash possibly set aside for Donald Trump's campaign chairman by a pro-Russian political party he consulted for. Investigators are looking for the person who signed for that money. Paul Manafort says he never received any secret payments. Our Charlie D'Agata is in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, where he has seen the evidence. Charlie, good morning.
CHARLIE D'AGATA: Good morning. Well this is a copy of the statement that was released condensed from the black ledger. And yes, there are items like expenses and computer equipment, but in some cases the reason for payment is listed in just one word: “Manafort.”
It details what appears to be undisclosed cash payments to Paul Manafort from his client's party at the time, Russian-backed former President Viktor Yanukovych, like never before -- 22 items dating back from November 20, 2007. The biggest entries -- $1.3 million, $1.15 million, and $3.5 million -- simply state “payment” or “Paul Manafort contract,” in all, totaling to $12.8 million. The new details were brought to life by anti-corruption politician Serhiy Leshchenko. Do you believe that's enough to start pursuing criminal charges against Mr. Manafort?
SERHIY LESHCHENKO: There are some investigations in Ukraine based on these records. And I believe he has to be interrogated in this case too.
D'AGATA: Investigators are now trying to determine whether Manafort played a key role in secretly routing millions of dollars to U.S. lobbyists. Though none of the entries are signed by Manafort, it’s Vitaliy Kalyuzhny's signature that appears most. He was a senior member of Yanukovych's party who founded an organization that reportedly paid millions of dollars to Washington-based lobbyists in order to sway public opinion in favor of Russian-backed Yanukovych. And anti-corruption officials say another name popped up on that ledger, Larry King. The name of the former CNN host appears next to a payment of $225,000 just two months before this 2011 interview with then-Prime Minister Mykola Azarov. Just another bizarre twist in what has become an increasingly murky tale.
Well Larry King aside, as far as investigators here are concerned, Paul Manafort may be guilty of tax evasion, money laundering, and illegally providing funds for lobbyists in the United States, and he should face questioning here or in America. [CBS, CBS This Morning, 8/19/16]
Morning Joe Mentioned “The Manafort News” In Passing, But Never Discussed The Story. MSNBC co-host Joe Scarborough mentioned the developments in passing, saying “the Manafort news … just keeps pouring out.” Despite saying they would discuss the news further, the show’s hosts didn’t bring the developments up again. From the August 19 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe:
JOE SCARBOROUGH (CO-HOST): We have a lot to talk about. Katty, we haven't even gotten to the Manafort news that just keeps pouring out and the Podesta Group's involved.
KATTY KAY: Yeah.
SCARBOROUGH: So you've got both campaign managers, right? I know it's brother, maybe -- a lot of people dance.
KAY: The Ukrainians, the Russians, the Iranians. We will get to all of that and State Department spokesman John Kirby will help us through it, he's coming up in the next hour. [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 8/19/16]
No Other Major Cable Or Network News Morning Show Covered The Developments. A search of “Manafort” and “Ukraine” on SnapStream for ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, CNN’s New Day, and Fox News’ Fox & Friends on August 19, 2016, turned up no results.