Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort quit Trump’s campaign in August under a cloud of suspicion, but it now appears that more than potential investigations may have been behind his departure. Manafort was also being strong-armed by someone with inside knowledge of under-the-table payments and a secret meeting between Donald Trump and a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician.
The undated communications, which are allegedly from the iPhone of Manafort’s daughter, include a text that appears to come from a Ukrainian parliamentarian named Serhiy Leshchenko, seeking to reach her father, in which he claims to have politically damaging information about both Manafort and Trump.
Attached to the text is a note to Paul Manafort referring to “bulletproof” evidence related to Manafort’s financial arrangement with Ukraine’s former president, the pro-Russian strongman Viktor Yanukovych, as well as an alleged 2012 meeting between Trump and a close Yanukovych associate named Serhiy Tulub.
Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist, has claimed to have no connection to the texts, but whatever their source, the author seemed to have advance knowledge of the investigation launched by Ukrainian officials into more than $12 million in off the books payments supposedly funneled to Manafort. These payments may have continued while Manafort was employed by Trump.
As for the meeting between Trump and Tulub …
The White House did not respond to a question about whether Trump had met with Tulub, a hunting buddy of Yanukovych’s who had served as part of government when Yanukovych was prime minister.
Serhiy Tulub is the former coal industry minister and head of the Cherkasy Regional State Administration, and a close associate of Yanukovych. It’s unclear what reason he would have had for meeting with Donald Trump.
It’s also not clear that Manafort himself brokered this meeting, as he and Trump supposedly did not work together before the campaign. At the time of Trump’s possible meeting with Tulub, Viktor Yanukovych was in power in Ukraine and Manafort was working to support Yanukovych.
Paul Manafort was hired to install pro-Russian strongman Yanukovych using a campaign of deceptive propaganda and staged protests. He not only put Yanukovych in a position to gift Russia with a sweetheart treaty and push Ukraine away from the West, but also provided Vladimir Putin with an excuse to invade Crimea. For his work, Manafort collected millions in overt pay, and possibly many millions more under the table.
In 2013, an escalating wave of protests against Yanukovych’s government began after Yanukovych reversed earlier promises, turned away from the EU, and signed a treaty with Russia. At the start of 2014, Yanukovych passed a series of laws making protests illegal, but that only increased the level of discord. Within two months he fled Kiev in the middle of the night and escaped to Moscow.
Even though Ukrainian officials were previously eager to go after Manafort for his involvement, that desire has cooled.
[Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko] and his allies, who are scrambling to establish a relationship with the Trump administration, have distanced themselves from those efforts, and from Leshchenko.