Paul John Manafort Jr. (born April 1, 1949) is an American lobbyist, political consultant and lawyer. He joined Donald Trump's presidential campaign team in March 2016 and served as campaign manager from June to August 2016. He was previously an adviser to the U.S. presidential campaigns of Republicans Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bob Dole. In 1980 Manafort co-founded the Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm Black, Manafort & Stone, along with principals Charles R. Black Jr., and Roger J. Stone, joined by Peter G. Kelly in 1984.:124
Manafort often lobbied on behalf of controversial foreign leaders such as former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, former dictator of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos, dictator of the former Democratic Republic of the Congo Mobutu Sese Seko, and Angolan guerrilla leader Jonas Savimbi. Lobbying to serve the interests of foreign governments requires registration with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA); however, as of June 2, 2017, Manafort had not registered. On June 27 he retroactively registered as a foreign agent.
Manafort is under investigation by multiple federal agencies. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has reportedly had an active criminal investigation on him since 2014 regarding business dealings while he was lobbying for Yanukovich. He is also a person of interest in the FBI counterintelligence probe looking into the Russian government's interference in the 2016 presidential election. Manafort was told, after his house was raided, that he would be indicted by Robert Mueller's prosecutors.
On October 30, 2017, Manafort surrendered to the FBI after news broke that a federal grand jury had indicted him and his business associate Rick Gates. The charges arise from his consulting work for a pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine. The indictment had been requested by Robert Mueller's special investigation unit. The indictment charged Manafort with conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, being an unregistered agent of foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, and false statements. Manafort has pleaded not guilty, and is free on bail.
Paul Manafort in 1976
|Born||Paul John Manafort Jr.
April 1, 1949
New Britain, Connecticut, U.S.
|Education||Georgetown University (BS, JD)|
|Spouse(s)||Kathleen Bond (m. 1978)|
|Children||2, including Jess|
Paul John Manafort Jr. was born April 1, 1949, in New Britain, Connecticut, the son of Antoinette Mary Manafort (née Cifalu; 1921–2003) and Paul John Manafort Sr. (1923–2013). His grandfather, James A. Manafort was an Italian who immigrated to the U.S. state of Connecticut in 1907 and founded the construction company New Britain House Wrecking Company in 1919 (later renamed Manafort Brothers Inc. in 1946). His father served with the U.S. Army combat engineers in World War II and was mayor of New Britain from 1965 to 1971.
In 1976, Manafort was the delegate-hunt coordinator for eight states for the President Ford Committee; the overall Ford delegate operation was run by James A. Baker III. Between 1978 and 1980, Manafort was the southern coordinator for Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign, and the deputy political director at the Republican National Committee. After Reagan's election in November 1980, he was appointed Associate Director of the Presidential Personnel Office at the White House. In 1981 he was nominated to the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
In February 2016 Manafort approached Donald Trump, whom he did not know well, through a mutual friend, Thomas J. Barack Jr. He pointed out his experience advising presidential campaigns in the United States and around the world, described himself as an outsider not connected to the Washington establishment, and offered to work without salary. In March 2016 he joined Trump's presidential campaign to take the lead in getting commitments from convention delegates. In June 2016, Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and promoted Manafort to the position. Manafort gained control of the daily operations of the campaign as well as an expanded $20 million budget, hiring decisions, advertising, and media strategy.
On June 9, 2016, Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Kushner were participants in a meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya and several others at Trump Tower. A British music agent, saying he was acting on behalf of Emin Agalarov and the Russian government, had told Trump Jr. that he could obtain damaging information on Hillary Clinton if he met with a lawyer connected to the Kremlin. At first Trump Jr. said the meeting had been about the Magnitsky Act; later he said the offer of information about Clinton had been a pretext to conceal Veselnitskaya's real agenda.
In August 2016, Manafort's connections to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Russian Party of Regions drew national attention in the US, where it was reported that Manafort may have illegally received $12.7 million in off-the-books funds from the Party of Regions.
On August 17, 2016, Donald Trump received his first security briefing. The same day, August 17, Trump shook up his campaign organization in a way that appeared to minimize Manafort's role. It was reported that members of Trump's family, particularly Jared Kushner who had originally been a strong backer of Manafort, had become uneasy about his Russian connections and suspected that he had not been forthright about them. Manafort stated in an internal staff memorandum that he would "remain the campaign chairman and chief strategist, providing the big-picture, long-range campaign vision". However, two days later, Trump announced his acceptance of Manafort's resignation from the campaign after Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway took on senior leadership roles within that campaign.
Upon Manafort's resignation as campaign chairman, Newt Gingrich stated that “nobody should underestimate how much Paul Manafort did to really help get this campaign to where it is right now.” Gingrich later added that, for the Trump administration, “It makes perfect sense for them to distance themselves from somebody who apparently didn’t tell them what he was doing.”
In 1980 Manafort was a founding partner of Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm Black, Manafort & Stone, along with principals Charles R. Black Jr., and Roger J. Stone. After Peter G. Kelly was recruited the name of the firm was changed to Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly (BMSK) in 1984.:124
In 1985, Manafort's firm, BMSK, signed a $600,000 contract with Jonas Savimbi, the leader of the Angolan rebel group UNITA, to refurbish Savimbi's image in Washington and secure financial support on the basis of his anti-communism stance. BMSK arranged for Savimbi to attend events at the American Enterprise Institute (where Jeane Kirkpatrick gave him a laudatory introduction), The Heritage Foundation, and Freedom House; in the wake of the campaign Congress approved hundreds of millions of dollars in covert American aid to Savimbi's group. Allegedly, Manafort's continuing lobbying efforts helped preserve the flow of money to Savimbi several years after the Soviet Union ceased its involvement in the Angolan conflict, forestalling peace talks.
Manafort's firm, BMSK, accepted $950,000 yearly to lobby for then-president of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos. He was also involved in lobbying for Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaïre, securing a 1 million dollar annual contract in 1989, and attempted to recruit Siad Barre of Somalia as a client. His firm also lobbied on behalf of the governments of the Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya (earning between $660,000 and $750,000 each year between 1991 and 1993), and Nigeria ($1 million in 1991). These activities led Manafort's firm to be listed amongst the top five lobbying firms receiving money from human-rights abusing regimes in the Center for Public Integrity report "The Torturer's Lobby".
Manafort wrote the campaign strategy for Édouard Balladur in the 1995 French elections, and was paid indirectly. The money, at least $200,000, was transferred to him through his friend, Lebanese arms-dealer Abdul Rahman al-Assir, from middle-men fees paid for arranging the sale of three French Agosta-class submarines to Pakistan, in a scandal known as the Karachi affair.
Manafort received $700,000 from the Kashmiri American Council between 1990 and 1994, supposedly to promote the plight of the Kashmiri people. However, an FBI investigation revealed the money was actually from Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) agency as part of a disinformation operation to divert attention from terrorism. A former Pakistani ISI official claimed Manafort was aware of the nature of the operation. While producing a documentary as part of the deal, Manafort interviewed several Indian officials while pretending to be a CNN reporter.
In the late 1980s, Manafort was criticized for using his connections at HUD to ensure funding for a $43 million rehabilitation of dilapidated housing in Seabrook, N.J. Manafort's firm received a $326,000 fee for its work in getting HUD approval of the grant largely through personal influence with Deborah Gore Dean, an executive assistant to former HUD Secretary Samuel R. Pierce, Jr.
Manafort also worked as an adviser on the Ukrainian presidential campaign of Viktor Yanukovych (and his Party of Regions during the same time span) from December 2004 until the February 2010 Ukrainian presidential election even as the U.S. government (and US Senator John McCain) opposed Yanukovych because of his ties to Russia's leader Vladimir Putin. Manafort was hired to advise Yanukovych months after massive street demonstrations known as the Orange Revolution overturned Yanukovych's victory in the 2004 presidential race. Borys Kolesnikov, Yanukovich’s campaign manager, said the party hired Manafort after identifying organizational and other problems in the 2004 elections, in which it was advised by Russian strategists. Manafort rebuffed U.S. Ambassador William Taylor when the latter complained he was undermining U.S. interests in Ukraine. According to a 2008 U.S. Justice Department annual report, Manafort’s company received $63,750 from Yanukovych's Party of Regions over a six-month period ending on March 31, 2008, for consulting services. In 2010, under Manafort's tutelage, the opposition leader put the Orange Revolution on trial, campaigning against its leaders' management of a weak economy. Returns from the presidential election gave Yanukovych a narrow win over Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a leader of the 2004 demonstrations. Yanukovych owed his comeback in Ukraine's presidential election to a drastic makeover of his political persona and, people in his party say, that makeover was engineered in part by his American consultant, Manafort.
In 2007 and 2008 Manafort was involved in investment projects with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska (the acquisition of a Ukrainian telecoms company) and Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash (redevelopment of the site of the former Drake Hotel in New York City). The Associated Press has reported that Manafort negotiated a $10 million annual contract with Deripaska to promote Russian interests in politics, business, and media coverage in Europe and the United States, starting in 2005.
In 2013 Yanukovych became the main target of the Euromaidan protests. After the February 2014 Ukrainian revolution (the conclusion of Euromaidan) Yanukovych fled to Russia. On March 17, 2014, the day after the Crimean status referendum, Yanukovych became one of the first eleven persons who were placed under executive sanctions on the Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN) by President Obama, freezing his assets in the US and banning him from entering the United States.[a]
Manafort then returned to Ukraine in September 2014 to become an advisor to Yanukovych’s former head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine Serhiy Lyovochkin. In this role he was asked to assist in rebranding Yanukovych's Party of Regions. Instead, he argued to help stabilize Ukraine, Manafort was instrumental in creating a new political party called Opposition Bloc. According to Ukrainian political analyst Mikhail Pogrebinsky, "He thought to gather the largest number of people opposed to the current government, you needed to avoid anything concrete, and just become a symbol of being opposed". According to Manafort, he has not worked in Ukraine since the October 2014 Ukrainian parliamentary election. However, according to Ukrainian border control entry data, Manafort traveled to Ukraine several times after that election, all the way through late 2015. According to The New York Times, his local office in Ukraine closed in May 2016. According to Politico, by then Opposition Bloc had already stopped payments for Manafort and this local office.
Ukrainian government National Anti-Corruption Bureau studying secret documents claimed in August 2016 to have found handwritten records that show $12.7 million in cash payments designated for Manafort, although they had yet to determine if he had received the money. These undisclosed payments were from the pro-Russian political party Party of Regions, of the former president of Ukraine. This payment record spans from 2007 to 2012. Manafort’s lawyer, Richard A. Hibey, said Manafort didn’t receive “any such cash payments” as described by the anti-corruption officials. The Associated Press reported on August 17, 2016 that Manafort secretly routed at least $2.2 million in payments to two prominent Washington lobbying firms in 2012 on Party of Regions' behalf, and did so in a way that effectively obscured the foreign political party's efforts to influence U.S. policy. Associated Press noted that under federal law, U.S. lobbyists must declare publicly if they represent foreign leaders or their political parties and provide detailed reports about their actions to the Justice Department, which Manafort reportedly did not do. The lobbying firms unsuccessfully lobbied U.S. Congress to reject a resolution condemning the jailing of Yanukovych's main political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko.
Financial records certified in December 2015 and filed by Manafort in Cyprus showed him to be approximately $17 million in debt to interests connected to interests favorable to Putin and Yanukovych in the months before joining the Trump presidential campaign in March. These included a $7.8 million debt to Oguster Management Limited, a company connected to Russian oligarch and close Putin associate Oleg Deripaska. This accords with a 2015 court complaint filed by Deripaska claiming that Manafort and his partners owed him $19 million in relation to a failed Ukrainian cable television business. An additional $9.9 million debt was owed to a Cyprus company that tied through shell companies to Ivan Fursin, a Ukrainian Member of Parliament of the Party of Regions. Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni maintained in response that “Manafort is not indebted to Mr. Deripaska or the Party of Regions, nor was he at the time he began working for the Trump campaign.” During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Manafort, via Kiev-based operative Konstantin Kilimnik, offered to provide briefings on political developments to Deripaska, though there is no evidence that the briefings took place.
According to alleged leaked text messages between his daughters Manafort was also one of the proponents of violent removal of the Euromaidan protesters which resulted in police shooting dozens of people during 2014 Hrushevskoho Street riots. In one of the messages his daughter writes that his "strategy that was to cause that, to send those people out and get them slaughtered".
Manafort has rejected questions about whether Russian-Ukrainian operative Konstantin Kilimnik, with whom he consulted regularly, might be in league with Russian intelligence. According to Yuri Shvets, Kilimnik previously worked for the GRU and every bit of information about his work with Paul Manafort went directly to Russian intelligence
Lobbying for foreign countries requires registration with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Manafort did not do so at the time of his lobbying. In April 2017, a Manafort spokesman said Manafort was planning to file the required paperwork; however, according to Associated Press reporters, as of June 2, 2017, Manafort had not yet registered. On June 27 he filed to be retroactively registered as a foreign agent. Among other things, he disclosed that he made more than $17 million between 2012 and 2014 working for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.
Manafort’s work in Ukraine coincided with the purchase of at least four prime pieces of real estate in the United States, worth a combined $11 million, between 2006 and early 2012.
Since 2012, Manafort has taken out seven home equity loans worth approximately $19.2 million on three separate New York-area properties he owns through holding companies registered to him and his son-in-law Jeffrey Yohai, a real estate investor. In 2016, Yohai declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy for LLCs tied to four residential properties; Manafort holds a $2.7 million claim on one of the properties.
As of February 2017, Manafort had about $12 million in home equity loans outstanding. For one home, loans of $6.6 million exceeded the value of that home; the loans are from the Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, Illinois, whose CEO, Steve Calk, was a campaign supporter of Donald Trump and is a member of Trump's Economic Advisory Council. It was subpoenaed in July 2017 by New York prosecutors about the loans they had issued to Manafort during the 2016 presidential campaign. At the time these loans represented about a quarter of the bank's equity capital.
The Mueller investigation is reviewing a number of loans which Manafort has received since leaving the Trump campaign in August 2016. Specifically, $7 million from Oguster to another Manafort-linked company, LOAV Advisers Ltd. This entire amount was unsecured, not backed by any collateral. Additionally, NBC News found documents that reveal loans of more than $27 million from the two Cyprus entities to a third company connected to Manafort, a limited-liability corporation registered in Delaware. This company, Jesand LLC, bears a strong resemblance to the names of Manafort’s daughters, Jessica and Andrea.
The FBI reportedly began a criminal investigation into Manafort in 2014, shortly after Yanukovich was deposed. That investigation predated the 2016 election by several years and is ongoing. In addition, Manafort is also a person of interest in the FBI counterintelligence probe looking into the Russian government's interference in the 2016 presidential election.
On January 19, 2017, the eve of the Trump's presidential inauguration, it was reported that Manafort was under active investigation by multiple federal agencies including the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Director of National Intelligence and the financial crimes unit of the Treasury Department. Investigations were said to be based on intercepted Russian communications as well as financial transactions. It was later confirmed that Manafort was wiretapped by the FBI "before and after the  election ... including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump." The surveillance of Manafort began in 2014, before Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President of United States.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed on May 17, 2017 by the Justice Department to oversee the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections and related matters, took over the existing criminal probe involving Manafort. On July 26, 2017, the day after Manafort's United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing and the morning of his planned hearing before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, FBI agents at Mueller's direction conducted a "no-knock" pre-dawn raid on Manafort's Alexandria, Virginia home, using a search warrant to seize documents and other materials, in regards to the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
In May 2017, in response to a request of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), Manafort submitted over "300 pages of documents...included drafts of speeches, calendars and notes from his time on the campaign" to the Committee "related to its investigation of Russian election meddling". On July 25 he met privately with the committee.
A congressional hearing on Russia issues, including the Trump campaign-Russian meeting, was scheduled by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary for July 26, 2017. Manafort was scheduled to appear together with Trump Jr., while Kushner was to testify in a separate closed session. After separate negotiations, both Manafort and Trump Jr. met with the committee on July 26 in closed session and agreed to turn over requested documents. They are expected to testify in public eventually.
On October 30, 2017, Manafort surrendered to the FBI after being indicted by a federal grand jury as part of Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign. The indictment against Manafort and business associate Rick Gates was issued on October 27, 2017. The charges are: engaging in a conspiracy against the United States,:23 engaging in a conspiracy to launder money,:23–24 failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts,:25 acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal,:26 making false and misleading statements in documents filed and submitted under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA),:27 and making false statements.:28–29 According to the prosecutors, Manafort laundered more than $18 million. The charges are related to his consulting work for a pro-Russian government in Ukraine and do not cover any activities related to the 2016 Trump campaign.
Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty to these charges at their court appearance on October 30, 2017. The US government asked the court to set Manafort’s bail at $10 million and Gates at $5 million. The court placed Manafort and Gates under house arrest after prosecutors described them as flight risks. If convicted on all charges Manafort could face decades in prison.
Following the hearing Manafort's attorney Kevin M. Downing made a public statement to the press proclaiming his client's innocence while describing the federal charges stemming from the indictment as “ridiculous”. Downing went on to defend Manafort's decade long lobbying efforts for pro-Russian, former Ukrainian prime minister Viktor Yanukovych, describing their lucrative partnership as attempts to spread democracy and strengthen the relationship between the United States and Ukraine. Judge Stewart responded by threatening to impose a gag order, saying "I expect counsel to do their talking in this courtroom and in their pleadings and not on the courthouse steps."
On November 30, 2017, Manafort's attorneys said that Manafort has reached a bail agreement with prosecutors that will free him from the house arrest he has been under since his indictment. He offered bail in the form of $11.65 million worth of real estate. The agreement still needs to be approved by the judge in the case. While out on bond, Paul Manafort worked on an op-ed with a Russian intelligence official, prosecutors said in a court filing requesting that the judge in the case revoke Manafort's bond agreement.
On January 3, 2018, Manafort filed a lawsuit challenging Mueller‘s broad authority and alleging the Justice Department violated the law in appointing Mueller. A spokesperson for the department replied that "The lawsuit is frivolous but the defendant is entitled to file whatever he wants". On January 12, Mueller asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to set Manafort‘s trial date for May 14, 2018. On January 16, 2018, Jackson denied the government's date for trial indicating that the criminal trial of appears likely to start in September at the earliest. Jackson revealed that a letter from Manafort's physician was submitted to the court, asking for changes in the conditions of Manafort's confinement. "While he's subject to home confinement, he's not confined to his couch, and I believe he has plenty of opportunity to exercise," Jackson said.
Manafort has two daughters: Jessica, a film director, and Andrea, a lawyer.