The Slatest

Remember When Trump’s Campaign Chairman Denied Receiving Secret Cash From a Putin Ally? Well …

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort with current White House adviser Stephen Miller on June 22, 2016 in New York City.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Back in August 2016, Paul Manafort resigned his position as chairman of the Trump campaign amid a nesting doll of Russia-related revelations. One of these was a New York Times report that a “secret ledger” in the Ukraine listed Manafort as having been paid $12.7 million in cash through an “illegal off-the-books system” by a Vladimir Putin-allied political party between 2007 and 2012. (The system appears to have been illegal because it allowed the party—the Party of Regions, which was fronted by Manafort client and onetime Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych—to hide payments that they were obligated by law to disclose; the “ledger” in question is a literal 400-page handwritten document.)

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Though Manafort resigned, he said the report that he had “accepted cash payments” was “unfounded, silly and nonsensical” and later said the ledger in question was a forgery. But—and I’m guessing you can see where this is going, what with the headline and all—it turns out that the Associated Press has now obtained documents which confirm that Manfort received two payments for the exact amounts he was listed as having been paid in the ledger:

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The AP … identified in the records two payments received by Manafort that aligned with the ledger: one for $750,000 that a Ukrainian lawmaker said last month was part of a money-laundering effort that should be investigated by U.S. authorities. The other was $455,249 and also matched a ledger entry.

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The story says that, in a recent interview, Manafort “did not deny” receiving the payments, which took place in 2007 and 2009. The AP also reports that the payments were “received by [Manafort’s] consulting firm in the United States” via wire transfer from companies that were registered in Belize, details which indicate that Manafort’s earlier denial of the Times allegations may have gotten cute about the literal definition of “cash” and/or “I.”

The confirmation of the first payment is particularly astounding because it corresponds, as the AP notes, with a March 21 allegation made by Ukrainian politician Serhiy Leshchenko that seemed somewhat implausible at the time. On that date, Leshchenko revealed what appeared to be documentation that the Party of Regions had purchased 501 computers from Manafort a price of $750,000. Leshchenko claimed the document had been found in an abandoned safe in Manafort’s old office and suggested, given that Manafort is a political consultant and not a computer salesman, that it constituted evidence of some sort of money-laundering scheme. (Despite the confirmation that a $750,000 payment did, in fact, take place, Manafort insisted to the AP this week that the Leshchenko document is “a fraud.”)

While the AP’s story does not reflect on the question of whether Manafort was involved in any collaboration with Russian entities that may have supported the Trump 2016 campaign, the FBI’s investigation into that subject is ongoing. (The New York Times reported in February that Manafort was one of the Trump-related figures who was revealed via intercepted conversations with foreign targets to have had “repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.”)

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