Everybody connected to Trump has huge corrupt interests in helping Russians. It is beyond disgusting.
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/what-did-ex-trump-aide-paul-manafort-really-do-ukraine-n775431What Did Ex-Trump Aide Paul Manafort Really Do in Ukraine?
by Kenzi Abou-Sabe, Tom Winter and Max Tucker / Jun.27.2017 / 6:13 AM ET
A former Trump aide now under federal investigation as part of the Russia probe earned millions working for a corrupt pro-Russian political party that repeatedly disparaged America's most important military alliance.
Paul Manafort, who was Trump's campaign chief from May to August 2016, spent nearly a decade as a consultant to Ukraine's Party of Regions and its standardbearer, Viktor Yanukovych.backed by Russian-leaning oligarchs, the party opposed NATO membership and spouted anti-Western rhetoric that once helped fuel violence against American marines. Its reign ended when Yanukovych fled to Russia after bloody street protests against his personal corruption and pro-Moscow actions.
Manafort has always said he tried to Westernize the party and steer it towards a democratic model, and denies any part in anti-NATO messaging, but Ukrainian critics and U.S. diplomats who served in Kiev aren't so sure.
Related: Donald Trump Aide Paul Manafort Scrutinized for Russian Business Ties
Manafort also earned millions doing private business deals with some of the oligarchs who backed the party.
As NBC News previously reported, federal officials say that the money Manafort earned from both the party and the oligarchs — and what he did with it — are part of what has drawn the attention of investigators. New details keep emerging as U.S. and Ukrainian officials piece together Manafort's contacts and payments in Ukraine from 2004 to 2014.
Manafort Goes to Ukraine
Manafort, the son of a wealthy Connecticut builder, had worked as a lobbyist and as an aide for Republican presidents before his stint in Ukraine. He had built a reputation for repackaging controversial foreign leaders for U.S. consumption. Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Angolan guerilla leader Jonas Savimbi, and Zairian strongman Mobutu Sese Seko were among his clients.
In 2004, Manafort was hired by clients in Ukraine who needed a similar image overhaul.
Viktor Yanukovych had been governor of Donetsk, a Russian-speaking region close to the Russian border, and then the prime minister of Ukraine. He and his faction, the Party of Regions, were thought by many Western observers to have links to organized crime. As a young man, Yanukovych had been convicted of robbery and assault.
John Herbst, who was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2004 to 2006, said the motivations of the oligarchs who ran the party seemed uncomplicated. "My impression of Yanukovych and the others — and I knew most of the senior folks — it was all about getting rich or richer, and maintaining power."
Aided by high-priced Russian political consultants, Yanukovych ran for president of Ukraine in 2004, and seemed to have won.
Related: Flynn, Manafort Are Key Figures in Russia Probe Mueller Will Lead
But the election was tainted by charges of fraud and corruption — most against Yanukovych and the Party of Regions — and an attempted assassination. A month prior to balloting, someone poisoned Yanukovych's main rival, pro-Western candidate Viktor Yushchenko, and nearly killed him. On Election Day, Yanukovych, who had trailed in polls by double digits, won by three points, sparking accusations of voter fraud.
The government voided the election results and scheduled a do-over.
Weeks before the December 2004 presidential "re"-election, a pro-Russian Ukrainian billionaire and major Party of Regions donor named Rinat Akhmetov asked Manafort to help with Yanukovych's troubled campaign.
Yanukovych lost the do-over election to Yushchenko, but Manafort won a job he would keep for a decade.
Manafort was hired to prepare the Party of Regions for the parliamentary elections of 2006, in which Yanukovych would try to reclaim the office of prime minister.
By 2006, Manafort and his team were "the principal political consultants in the Party of Regions," said Taras Chornovil, a former Ukrainian Parliament deputy who was a member of the party from 2004 to 2007.
A leaked U.S. State Department cable from 2006 said that Manafort's job was to give the Party of Regions an "extreme makeover" and "change its image from … a haven for mobsters into that of a legitimate political party."
Related: FBI Making Inquiries Into Ex-Trump Campaign Manager's Foreign Ties
Manafort allegedly came up with the POR's slogan for the 2006 election, "A Better Life Today." Though Manafort couldn't speak Russian or Ukrainian, he taught Yankovych how to give a speech and how to stay on message.
According to Chornovil, Manafort's campaign tactics that year also included mandating that Yanukovych surrogates wear make-up and Hugo Boss suits during TV interviews. After their TV appearances, they had to return the rented suits to party headquarters, Chornovil said.
When Chornovil complained about Manafort to a close associate of Yanukovych, Chornovil said the man told him Manafort was untouchable — "a big cheese here, in charge of everything."
Manafort was also trying to help Yanukovych expand his base of support.
Ukraine has a sharp political and geographic divide between its pro-Western, Ukrainian-speaking majority and a large Russian minority that looks East.While other American consultants, both Democratic and Republican, were working on the campaigns of Ukraine's pro-Western "Orange" parties, Manafort was working for a party whose base was in Russian-speaking Eastern Ukraine. Manafort's new bosses were oligarchs friendly to Moscow, and hostile to America's principal military alliance, NATO.
aid Herbst, "They were pro-Russian because that's where their voters were politically and culturally. So they would not have gotten them if they were arguing for NATO — let's join NATO — policies."
Skepticism about NATO had the virtue of appealing to many Ukrainian speakers as well. Nationwide, more than half of the public opposed joining the military alliance.
"They were pro-Russian because that's where their voters were."
"They were pro-Russian because that's where their voters were."
He could attract pro-Western Ukrainians, meanwhile, by broadcasting his support for European Union membership. Some oligarchs behind the party were eager to do business with Europe anyway.
Bill Taylor, who was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009, said Manafort would contact the U.S. embassy and tell them he was urging his client to look West. "[He said] he'd tell Yanukovych, 'You'll do better in Western Ukraine if you orient more toward Europe," recalled Taylor. "'To broaden your base, you should orient toward the EU.'"
For the next eight years, Yanukovych would adjust his positions on NATO and the EU as needed, tacking East or West depending on the electoral winds and his audience.
Sometimes his party's public actions and Yanukovych's private assurances to Western officials were at odds.
"[Yanukovych] was willing to allow all kinds of cooperation with NATO," which the Russians did not like, said Amb. Herbst, "but it's true that [Yanukovych] was organizing rallies against NATO exercises."