Donald Trump just can’t catch a break. Even as he attempts to re-focus on the issues at hand, his campaign still finds new ways to embroil itself in controversy. In the latest headline, campaign manager Paul Manafort has been linked to some damaging documents apparently proving a link between Manafort, Ukraine, Russia, and cash. From the New York Times article:
Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.”
And, from the Washington Post:
In the 400-page ledger kept at party headquarters, inside a room which contained two safes full of $100 bills, Manafort’s name appeared 22 times over five years, according to Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau, which obtained the document and has an evidence-sharing agreement with the FBI.”
Such payments, if true, cast Manafort as a shady individual with heavy Russian interests and ties. He is now a giant distraction for a campaign that prides itself in it’s ability to freely attack Hillary Clinton on issues related to Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin. With a high-ranking Trump official potentially accepting cash payments to influence Ukrainian elections in favor of Russia, it seems the campaign can no longer go after Clinton on Russian matters. At least not until they clear Manafort’s name or cut ties with him completely, and immediately.
As the 2016 presidential election continues to grow stranger, this latest snafu only gives credence to the possible meddling of Putin in American politics. If Trump wants to continue to present his campaign as self-sufficient and beholden to no one, he needs to dump Manafort and pursue his third campaign manager since June.
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