US probe of ex-Trump aide extends to Cyprus

During today's White House press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was pressed on the recent Associated Press report detailing Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort's work to push a pro-Putin agenda for the Russian government. He added that he could offer "a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government".

The AP also reported that Manafort allegedly told Deripaska in 2005 that he was pushing policies as part of his work in Ukraine "at the highest levels of the USA government - the White House, Capitol Hill and the State Department", and claimed to have hired an worldwide law firm with close ties to the then U.S. president, George W Bush, to support his clients' interest.

Mr Manafort's arrangement was with Russian aluminium magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally. Manafort and Deripaska maintained a business relationship until at least 2009.

Treasury agents in recent months obtained information connected to Manafort's transactions from Cypriot authorities, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Highly successful as a lobbyist, Manafort has also had business and film interests.

Stephanopoulos asked Manafort, "Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you, or your campaign, and Putin and his regime?"

As early as last August, reports emerged that Manafort was the subject of a USA investigation into his dealings in Ukraine.

Manafort's spokesman told the New York Times Tuesday the claims were "baseless" and should be "summarily dismissed". The nomination hearings of a new Supreme Court justice would be forestalled while national law enforcement and intelligence agencies investigated the current administration's ties to a foreign government that attempted to sway the 2016 presidential election in favor of the president who appointed that nominee.

Jeff Horwitz and Chad Day wrote in the piece that Manafort "proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics".

While Manafort's paid contract with Oleg Deripaska appears to have ended in 2009, he formulated a written plan to ease the economic sanctions imposed on Russian Federation which he proposed in a memo sent directly to the billionaire.

A veteran of Republican conventions stretching back to Ford's 1976 campaign, Manafort was hired last March to manage Trump's delegate operation when it appeared the candidate might face a floor fight at the convention and his campaign was struggling. According to an unnamed former campaign official who talked to The Daily Beast, Manafort was in regular contact during the transition with Vice President Mike Pence, whom the former official implied was Manafort's pick for the spot.

Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees said the new revelations will feature in the congressional investigations. No request has been made, according to two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the case.

  • Leroy Wright