Trump and Manafort: Paul Manafort's work in Ukraine becomes U.S. campaign issue - WSJ

18:03 Aug. 16, 2016

Paul Manafort's work in Ukraine becomes U.S. campaign issue - WSJ

Paul Manafort appears on stage ahead of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, June 22, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

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.

Read more Ledgers of Ukraine's disgraced ex-ruling party show millions designated for Trump's campaign chief

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.

Read more Republican security experts rail against Trump in open letter

"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.

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