Paul Manafort, who chaired Donald Trump’s presidential campaign for five months, pitched a Russian oligarch on a proposal to “greatly benefit the Putin government” in 2005, according to a strategy memo obtained by the Associated Press.
Manafort later signed a contract with the Russian magnate, Oleg Deripaska, that paid Manafort $10 million a year. In the memo, Manafort outlined a plan to influence governments and media coverage in Europe and the United States to promote the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Manafort wrote, according to the AP report.
Manafort chaired the Trump campaign from March 2016 until August, when he resigned amid revelations about his work for a Ukrainian political party aligned with Russia.
The new revelations appear to contradict Manafort’s repeated denials that he had ever worked on behalf of the Russian government. In a statement reacting to the AP report, he maintained that his work for Deripaska did not advance Russian state interests.
“I worked with Oleg Deripaska almost a decade ago representing him on business and personal matters in countries where he had investments,” he told Fox News. “My work for Mr. Deripaska did not involve representing Russian political interests.”
Update 12:15 p.m. PT: At the White House press briefing on Wednesday, spokesman Sean Spicer addressed the AP report.
“Nothing in this morning’s report references any actions by the president, the White House or any Trump administration official,” Spicer said. “The report is entirely focused on actions that Paul took a decade ago.”
Spicer also noted that Tony Podesta, whose brother chaired the Clinton campaign, lobbied on behalf of a Russian bank.