The Associated Press did some digging, and a story that Paul Manafort dismissed in the summer of 2016 is now coming back to bite him.
Here is what they are reporting:
Last August, a handwritten ledger surfaced in Ukraine with dollar amounts and dates next to the name of Paul Manafort, who was then Donald Trump’s campaign chairman.
Ukrainian investigators called it evidence of off-the-books payments from a pro-Russian political party — and part of a larger pattern of corruption under the country’s former president. Manafort, who worked for the party as an international political consultant, has publicly questioned the ledger’s authenticity.
Now, financial records newly obtained by The Associated Press confirm that at least $1.2 million in payments listed in the ledger next to Manafort’s name were actually received by his consulting firm in the United States. They include payments in 2007 and 2009, providing the first evidence that Manafort’s firm received at least some money listed in the so-called Black Ledger.
The two payments came years before Manafort became involved in Trump’s campaign, but for the first time bolster the credibility of the ledger. They also put the ledger in a new light, as federal prosecutors in the U.S. have been investigating Manafort’s work in Eastern Europe as part of a larger anti-corruption probe.
It is important to note none of this has anything to do with Donald Trump’s campaign per se. However, it is going to raise more questions about the people Donald Trump chose to be part of his campaign or even just to act as an adviser, like Carter Page.
Separately, Manafort is also under scrutiny as part of congressional and FBI investigations into possible contacts between Trump associates and Russia’s government under President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
It is part of a greater overall perception issue for Donald Trump. When the FBI is conducting a counter-intelligence investigation surrounding Russian influence in the 2016 election and Congress is holding multiple investigations, it’s not going to look good if the guy who used to run your campaign is indicted as part of a corruption probe.
Whether or not Manafort is charged with any crimes remains to be seen. That said, from a political point of view, this news is not good news for Trump. If one says, “Why? It has nothing to do with him!” then point to the movie Casino where Ace tells Nicky, “Every time you’re on television, my name gets mentioned. That looks bad.”