Constant information drip deepens Donald Trump's Russian woes

"Manafort's consulting work in Ukraine was already under a microscope, given Trump's favorable comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin, an ally of Yanukovych's".

But the AP reported that Manafort and some of his associates remained close to Trump's inner circle, and Manafort told a colleague that he continues to speak to the U.S. president.

After Tuesday's New York Times report alleging that former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort may have tried to cover up illicit payments from the former Russia-backed leader of Ukraine, the Associated Press on Wednesday released a new report claiming Manafort previously worked for a Russian billionaire with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The White House on Wednesday rushed to distance itself from President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, saying Trump did not know of his secret work for a Russian oligarch.

Mr Manafort has insisted that he never worked for Russian interests.

In response to the latest allegations, Manafort said: "I worked with Oleg Deripaska nearly a decade ago representing him on business and personal matters in countries where he had investments", He told AP. The official said there had been several discussions of Manafort's business dealings and the subject of Deripaska "never came up". The newest report is the most damning yet. In fact, that's one of the things that he was even promising in these memos, was that he would happily do work directly on behalf of the Russian state, if it was of interest. "They were always in concert with US foreign policy, never contrary to it".

The memo says Manafort believed the strategy could "greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels" and "can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government".

He was forced to resign as Mr Trump's campaign chairman in August 2016 over revelations about his ties to Mr Yanukovych.

Yoshiko Herrera, a scholar of US-Russian relations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said it is clear that Deripaska was one of only a handful of oligarchs that were close to Putin during that time. He added that President Trump had not been aware of Manafort's previous work on behalf of Deripaska.

Manafort received money from Deripaska through at least 2009, the AP investigation found.

The AP claims it's seen records showing "international wire transfers of millions of dollars" as part of Manafort's arrangement with Deripaska.

He compared Manafort's work to that of Tony Podesta, who Spicer described as a "Clinton campaign fundraiser" and the brother of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta. He and the Trump campaign parted ways two days later.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to defend his conduct at a January Senate confirmation hearing, ub which he denied contact with Russian Federation during the 2016 campaign, during which he was an adviser to Trump. And, as best as we know, there is no continued business relationship between them at all. That doesn't mean he wasn't in touch with other Putin cronies, but it does strongly suggest that the 2005 deal to promote Kremlin interests overseas was no longer operative by the time he became the man in charge of Team Trump.

  • Leroy Wright