The Wall Street Journal reports that the special-counsel investigation into Donald Trump’s former national campaign chair, Paul Manafort, now includes possible money laundering.
According to the bomb-shell report, this is, indeed, a criminal investigation, and the money laundering is tied to the “Kremlin-backed campaign to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.”
The WSJ goes deeper:
The Senate and House intelligence committees also are probing possible money laundering by Mr. Manafort, according to people with knowledge of those investigations.
The Senate committee also has received reports from the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which tracks illicit money flows, to learn if any of Mr. Trump’s businesses may have financial ties to Russian interests, these people said. Mr. Trump has said he has no such ties.
Manafort came under fire in late 2016 when it became clear that he had worked as a pro-Russia lobbyist in Ukraine.
It does look like the possible money laundering is related to another investigation into the real-estate transactions of Manafort – both investigations are being led byNew York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
The AP reports that while working in Ukraine, Manafort was a clandestine employee of the Russian government – he “secretly worked to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government”
CNBC reports that this revelation “appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests…Manafort did not disclose details about the lobbying work to the Justice Department during the period the contract was in place.”
According to the report, in 2005 Manafort began working with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska to craft and implement a plan to undermine “anti-Russian sentiment across former Soviet republics.” The next year, a contract for $10,000,000 was signed by Manafort and Deripaska. Deripaska is confirmed by the AP to be a close ally of Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
The AP has obtained business records and transactions from the relationship, including one memo from Manafort to Deripaska:
“We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success. [The effort] will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.”
Manafort responded to a request for comment from the AP by saying in this relationship there was nothing “inappropriate or nefarious.”