President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort will register with the US government as a foreign agent amid accusations that he took money from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, the Associated Press reports.
Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign back in August after his name surfaced on the "Black Ledger"—a list of off-the-books payments from the pro-Russian party to folks working for them across the globe. Ukrainian investigators say the payments were illegal, and that the ledger contains evidence of corruption under the country's former president, who was ousted in 2014 before high-tailing it to Russia with stolen Ukrainian assets. Though Manafort has admitted he lobbied in Washington on behalf of the pro-Russian party, he's called the Black Ledger bogus, saying the payments were phony.
But on Wednesday, the AP revealed at least two of the payments listed on the ledger didgo to Manafort, lending credence to Ukrainian investigators' claims that he has received at least some of the $12.7 million. Shortly after the AP published its report, Manafort's spokesman said his client would register himself as a foreign agent. He stressed, however, that Manafort has never lobbied on behalf of the Russian government.
"Mr. Manafort's work in Ukraine was totally open and appropriate, and wire transfers for international work are perfectly legal," Manafort's spokesman, Jason Maloni, told the AP. According to Maloni, Manafort was going to register as a foreign agent before the election, but is now "taking appropriate steps" to do so.
Manafort's work on behalf of the pro-Russian party, conducted with lobbying firm Podesta Group Inc., was actually carried out pretty covertly, the AP reports. That firm also registered with the US government as a foreign agent Wednesday—saying, essentially, that the work they did could've principally benefitted the Ukrainian government.
Manafort is now the second former Trump associate to formally register himself as a foreign agent after Michael Flynn—Trump's former national security adviser—who did the same in early March. Flynn registered after admitted to the US government that he did lobbying work on behalf of the Turkish government without previously disclosing that information.