Washington lobbying firm that worked for Trump advisers registers as foreign agents
Such a move would add a new embarrassment to an administration dealing with investigations into possible collaboration with Russian Federation during last year’s campaign.
The Justice Department declined to comment.
The transactions also shed light on the real estate portfolio that Manafort acquired during and after the years he worked in Ukraine. Manafort will be joining Michael Flynn as another former Trump advisor turned foreign agent due to Russian ties. It routinely works with lobbying firms to help them get back in compliance by registering and disclosing their work.
“The transactions raise a number of questions, including whether Mr. Manafort’s decision to turn to Trump-connected lenders was related to his role in the campaign, where he had agreed to serve for free“, The New York Times said. Yanukovych was ousted following allegations of corruption.
Manafort has vigorously denied any wrongdoing, and has criticized the AP’s report that his firm received $1.2 million from a pro-Russian political party, a payment which was first reported on after the discovery of a handwritten ledger discovered in Ukraine.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Manafort’s representative said he “has always denied that he ever received any cash payments for his work and has consistently maintained that he received all of his payments, for services rendered, through wire transfers conducted through the global banking system”. The spokesman told NBC News that Manafort began speaking to officials about registering under the Foreign Agents Registration Act before the 2016 presidential election and “received formal guidance recently from the authorities”.
The Justice Department rarely prosecutes such violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act, but Manafort will now have to publicly and specifically detail his foreign agent work. But what exactly is a foreign agent, and what will that designation mean for Manafort? The law carries maximum penalties of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. He threatened to sue the AP. A foreign agent registration requires lobbying firms to disclose more details about their work than is required under the Congressional registration, including the details of the lobbying contract, individual contacts with American officials and any attempts to influence US public opinion.
The Podesta Group has previously acknowledged that Manafort’s firm, DMP International, had provided guidance about the lobbying effort.
Two firms, Podesta Group and Mercury, represented the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a Brussels-based non-profit organization that worked to create a closer relationship between the United States and Ukraine.
The payments were made in 2007 and 2009, well before he was involved in Trump’s presidential campaign. Yanukovych-a Kremlin ally-fled to Moscow.
The White House did not immediately respond to questions about whether Trump was aware that Manafort needed to register as a foreign agent.