The New York Times reports: Paul J. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, recently filed financial reports with the Justice Department showing that he earned nearly $17 million for two years of work for a Ukrainian political party with links to the Kremlin.
Curiously, that was more than the party itself reported spending in the same period for its entire operation — the national political organization’s expenses, salaries, printing outlays and other incidentals.
The discrepancies show a lot about how Mr. Manafort’s clients — former President Viktor F. Yanukovych of Ukraine and his Party of Regions — operated.
And in a broader sense, they underscore the dangers that lurk for foreigners who, tempted by potentially rich payoffs, cast their lot with politicians in countries that at best have different laws about money in politics, and at worst are, like Ukraine in those years, irredeemably corrupt.
Mr. Yanukovych was driven from office in the Maidan Revolution of 2014, after having stolen, according to the current Ukrainian government, at least $1 billion. In the years before his fall, Mr. Manafort took lavish payments to burnish the image of Mr. Yanukovych and the Party of Regions in Washington, even as the party acknowledged only very modest spending.
In 2012, for example, the party reported annual expenses of about $11.1 million, based on the exchange rate at the time, excluding overhead. For the same year, Mr. Manafort reported income of $12.1 million from the party, the Justice Department filing shows. [Continue reading…]