18:03 Aug. 16, 2016
Before Republican Donald Trump picked him to direct his run at the White House, Paul Manafort's last high-profile client was former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a tainted candidate whom Mr. Manafort helped transform into a winning one—for a time.
In Ukraine, Mr. Manafort navigated around the egos of tycoons and politicians; he hammered out a message that was part economic, part tribal; and he shepherded campaigns through rocky times.
For Mr. Manafort's allies, his work with Mr. Yanukovych in Ukraine is evidence of his steady hand and skill under pressure: He revived a candidate who had lost a disputed election in 2004, defeating a political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, who is known as a fearsome campaigner.
For his detractors, the harsh nature of Mr. Yanukovych's rule reveals Mr. Manafort, 67 years old, as a gun-for-hire focused solely on winning—and with no compunction about the nature of his client.
"Manafort was representing a guy who was up to his eyeballs in corruption and has blood on his hands," said David Kramer, senior director for human rights and democracy at the McCain Institute and a former U.S. assistant secretary of state under George W. Bush.
Mr. Manafort's Ukraine work has become an issue for him and the Trump campaign, for which he serves as chairman. Following a report in the New York Times, Ukraine's top anticorruption prosecutor said Monday that Mr. Manafort's name was in secret records of off-the-books payments made by Mr. Yanukovych's pro-Russian Party of Regions from 2007 to 2012 and that Ukrainian investigators are looking into the ledger. The prosecutor, Artem Sytnyk, said that didn't mean that Mr. Manafort necessarily received any money.