Former Trump campaign chairman to register as foreign agent

Questions about Manafort's murky finances come under further scrutiny Wednesday with a New York Times report that the day he resigned from the Trump campaign, Manafort created a shell company "that soon received $13 million in loans from two businesses with ties to Mr. Trump, including one that partners with a Ukrainian-born billionaire and another led by a Trump economic adviser [and] ... were among $20 million in loans secured by properties belonging to Mr. Manafort and his wife". 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. The spokesperson also implied that the Manafort's lobbying efforts were not at the behest of the Russian government and that those efforts took place before his involvement with the Trump campaign.

The U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act requires people working on behalf of foreign political leaders to disclose their efforts to the Justice Department.

Paul Manafort is expected to retroactively file as a foreign agent after failing to disclose his prior work for a foreign government.

They also shine a light on the rich real estate portfolio that Mr. Manafort acquired during and after the years he worked in Ukraine. Instead, Podesta disclosed its lobbying activities only as part of a standard congressional lobbying disclosure for work done in the United States. A spokesman for Manafort, Jason Maloni, said he would consult with his client about the filing.

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.

Manafort and Rick Gates, a top Manafort aide in the Ukraine who later joined him in the Trump campaign, maintained initially that they had nothing to do with the think tank.

On Wednesday, the Podesta Group filed as a foreign agent for lobbying between 2012 and 2014 on behalf of the Centre, a development first reported by Politico. It cited unspecified "information brought to light in recent months" and conversations with Justice Department employees as the reason for its decision.

The Podesta Group has previously acknowledged to AP that Manafort's firm, DMP International, had provided guidance about the lobbying effort.

As the AP reported in August, the lobbying effort included not only traditional outreach to politicians in Washington but attempts to influence American public opinion and gather political intelligence on competing lobbying efforts in the U.S. The details of the lobbying effort were detailed in emails obtained by the AP past year.

The new paperwork identified Obama administration officials, legislators, reporters and editorial writers whose offices the lobbyists contacted.

The European Centre did not immediately respond to phone messages and emails from the AP.

  • Leroy Wright