According to a bombshell report dropped by the Associated Press on Thursday, advisers of Donald Trump conducted an undisclosed “covert influence campaign for pro-Russian Ukraine government” from 2012-2014.
The AP’s tweet:
Emails: Trump campaign chief orchestrated lobbying for Ukraine’s pro-Russian government. https://t.co/dZ078UdJWJ pic.twitter.com/47a9qybTDE
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) August 18, 2016
According to the AP, the emails show that Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, worked on a “covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine’s ruling political party, attempting to sway American public opinion in favor of the country’s pro-Russian government.”
The AP report:
Emails obtained by The Associated Press shed new light on the activities of a firm run by Donald Trump’s campaign chairman. They show it directly orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine’s ruling political party, attempting to sway American public opinion in favor of the country’s pro-Russian government.
Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, never disclosed their work as foreign agents between 2012 and 2014 as required under federal law.
The lobbying included attempts to gain positive press coverage of Ukrainian officials in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and AP. Another goal: undercutting American public sympathy for the imprisoned rival of Ukraine’s president.
The men have said they were not doing work that required them to register as foreign agents. Neither commented Thursday.
As AP notes, federal law requires U.S. lobbyists who have represented foreign governments to publicly disclose their work. If the two Trump officials are found in violation of the law, they could face up to five years in prison.
Perhaps this wouldn’t be a big controversy for another presidential candidate, but throughout his campaign, Donald Trump has repeatedly praised Russian president Vladimir Putin and promoted policies that would only embolden the American adversary.
The latest reporting suggests that it’s not such a stretch to imagine that Trump’s pro-Russian advisers have been impacting the candidate’s positions.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.