Former Trump campaign chairman to register as foreign agent

Cheryl Sanders
April 13, 2017

Manafort has vigorously denied any wrongdoing, and has criticized the AP's report that his firm received $1.2 million from a pro-Russian political party, a payment which was first reported on after the discovery of a handwritten ledger discovered in Ukraine. It's a headline-grabbing development to be sure, especially amid multiple investigations (by the House, the Senate, and the FBI) into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation, which Trump and his advisers have denied. 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".

Prior to his time on the Trump campaign team, from 2010 to 2014, Manafort worked on behalf of European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a group for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. 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.

Maloni would not answer questions about exactly what work Manafort could disclose.

They also shine a light on the rich real estate portfolio that Mr. Manafort acquired during and after the years he worked in Ukraine. The firms in question are the Podesta Group and Mercury LLC. Asked by The Associated Press whether Manafort intends to register as a foreign agent, Maloni said: "Yes, he is registering".

A spokesman for Manafort said Wednesday that the longtime political consultant considered a new filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) after receiving "formal guidance recently from the authorities" regarding work he and a colleague had performed on behalf of Ukrainian political interests.

The disclosure follows reporting by the AP in August that the firm of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, who served in a senior role in the Trump campaign, had overseen the lobbying effort. A foreign agent registration requires lobbying firms to disclose more details about their work than is required under the congressional registration, including the details of the lobbying contract, individual contacts with American officials and any attempts to influence US public opinion.

"The Podesta Group has routinely filed FARA registrations for our various clients".

Initially, Podesta officials said they were advised that the Brussels group was a nonprofit that was not financed directly by Yanukovych or his political party. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., both strong supporters at the time of sanctions against Yanukovych's government.

One of them was Dan Harsha, now associate director of communications at Harvard University's Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.

"How many obscure European think tanks were able to hire sophisticated A-list lobbyists?" he said.

Other reports by iNewsToday