This certainly does not look good for Donald Trump or his campaign chief. An incredible bit of reporting from the New York Times published Sunday night reveals that Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort’s name shows up 22 times in a secret ledger that appears to detail cash payments doled out by Ukraine’s pro-Russia party before it was deposed in a popular uprising. Let’s get the main point out of the way: The story doesn’t actually prove anything, but it’s damning nonetheless because at the very least it illustrates just how close Manafort appears to have been working with Ukraine’s former President Viktor Yanukovych.
According to handwritten ledgers, Manafort received $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments from Yanukovych’s party between 2007 to 2012. The details were uncovered by Ukraine’s anti-corruption bureau that is trying to piece together the vast network of corruption that the previous government used to essentially loot the state.
The anti-corruption officials recognize they still don’t know whether Manafort, who was already known to have worked with the Pro-Putin government, actually received the money detailed in the ledger. Still, they say that his connections to the political and business interests of the deposed government seem to make it unlikely he didn’t know about the rampant corruption, which included funneling of cash to offshore companies. “He understood what was happening in Ukraine,” said a former senior official in Kiev. “It would have to be clear to any reasonable person that the Yanukovych clan, when it came to power, was engaged in corruption.”
Manafort’s lawyer vehemently denied Trump’s campaign chief had received “any such cash payments,” calling the allegations “suspicions, and probably heavily politically tinged ones.”
While the Times piece is interesting, social media appeared to be more fascinated by another aspect of the story: who shared it. Shortly after the piece went live, Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was fired from the campaign, linked to it on Twitter without comment.
It seems Manafort needs to brace himself for more bad news in the coming days. Journalist Adam Weinstein wrote on Twitter: “Speaking as someone who has a story coming this week: This is just the beginning for Manafort. It gets worse.”