Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to “greatly benefit the Putin government,” according to documents obtained by the Associated Press. The new report directly contradicts the Trump administration and Manafort, who have both alleged that the former campaign operative never worked on behalf of Russian interests. In his work for a close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, he strategized in June 2005 that he would influence politics and business dealings in Europe and the U.S. to positively benefit Putin’s government. Manafort eventually signed a $10 million annual contract with Deripaska, and the two maintained a business relationship up until at least 2009. Manafort confirmed to the AP that he worked for Deripaska but said his work was being unfairly criticized as “inappropriate or nefarious” by a “smear campaign.” Manafort resigned from his position as Trump’s campaign chairman last August after press reports surfaced showing that he had, until 2014, organized a secret Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine’s pro-Russia political party.
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