Manafort reportedly led lobbying efforts on behalf of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a front group for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, in the United States from 2010 to 2014. (The Podesta Group, a lobbying firm run by Democrat Tony Podesta, also announced it would register as a foreign agent because it worked on the center’s behalf.)
The AP verified on Wednesday that Manafort received at least $1.2 million of a suspected $12.7 million in off-the-books payments from Yanukovych’s political party while the Russia-allied leader was still in power.
Manafort will be the second top Trump aide to retroactively register as a foreign agent. After Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn resigned as Trump’s national security adviser, he acknowledged that he had worked as an agent of the Turkish government to pressure the U.S. to extradite exiled cleric Fetullah Gulen, whom the Turkish government blames for a failed coup in 2016.
Additionally, The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the FBI had sought and obtained a warrant from a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor Carter Page, another former Trump campaign adviser, to investigate whether he was acting as a foreign intelligence asset of the Russian government.
When he said it was “time to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C.,” Trump attacked his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, for taking “massive sums of money from registered foreign lobbyists.” He further stated that he would ban members of his administration from becoming foreign agents and ban foreign lobbyist contributions.
It is deeply ironic that two members of Trump’s campaign, including his longest-serving campaign manager and his closest national security adviser, have since turned out to be foreign agents, while another is suspected of being a foreign intelligence asset.
The House and Senate intelligence committees and the FBI are investigating Trump’s campaign for possible collusion with Russian intelligence services ― which allegedly hacked the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign so Trump would win the 2016 election.