Paul Manafort, the man hired by Donald Trump to lead the effort to make him president of the United States, has quit that job.
No reason has been given for the veteran election campaign manager’s departure, but it comes just days after Manafort was effectively demoted in a shake-up of Trump’s team as he slipped behind Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in opinion polls.
In a statement, the Republican party candidate called Manafort a “true professional” saying he appreciated his great work, but there may have been a clash of personalities as Manafort tried -unsuccessfully – to reign in Trump’s freewheeling campaigning style.
The Ukraine connection
Trump’s son Eric cited revelations about Manafort’s past work for the former pro-Russian government in Ukraine as an issue.
“I think my father didn’t want to be, you know, distracted by, you know, whatever things that, you know, Paul was dealing with,” he told Fox News.
On Friday Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian MP and former investigative journalist published several pages of the once-secret accounting documents of Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin party.
They purport to show payments of $12.7 million earmarked for Manafort, who has denied any financial wrongdoing.
Leshchenko said: “Systematically, for many years, he has been receiving corrupt, black money from (Viktor Yanukovych’s) Party of Regions. We have obtained documents that unfortunately can’t be shown because it’s a secret investigation.”
Our investigation of payment to #Manafort by the Kremlin-backed ex Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovich via
Reuters</a> <a href="https://t.co/Rlsi9gnitF">https://t.co/Rlsi9gnitF</a></p>— Leshchenko (Leshchenkos) August 19, 2016
Euronews correspondent in Kyiv Sergio Cantone didn’t get far putting the allegations to the opposition block, the former Party of Regions.
He said: “They don’t want to make any comment about the issue and that’s not only because they are afraid of unveiling some black financial scheme, but it’s also about some concerns regarding the political relationship between the USA, Ukraine and their own party.”
Manafort’s political advisors did certainly help former Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych get elected.
It is now being claimed Manafort secretly routed at least $2.2 million to two Washington lobbying firms, which would be illegal under US law.
AP sources: Trump campaign chairman helped pro-Russian governing party in Ukraine route funds to DC lobbying firms. https://t.co/QwtJ5OkeYF— The Associated Press (@AP) August 17, 2016
Emails obtained by The Associated Press show that a firm run by Manafort directly orchestrated the covert lobbying operation on behalf of the Party of Regions, attempting to sway American public opinion in favour of Yanukovych’s government.
The lobbying included attempts to gain positive media coverage of Ukrainian officials in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press.
Another goal was to undercut American public sympathy for Yulia Tymoshenko, an imprisoned rival of then-President Yanukovych.
At the time, European and American leaders were pressuring Ukraine to free her.