'Senior Israeli official' helped Manafort boost pro-Russia Ukraine president
AP Photo/Sergey Kozlov, File
US President Donald Trump’s disgraced former campaign chief secretly worked with the Israeli government to drive a wedge between the Obama administration and Ukraine’s pro-European opposition in 2012, court documents published Friday revealed.
Paul Manafort agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and another count of obstruction of justice in order to avert a second trial on money laundering and illegal lobbying charges.
The charges stemmed from almost ten years working as a political consultant for pro-Russian former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in a 2014 revolution.
A superseding indictment issued in court Friday revealed joint work between Manafort and a “senior Israeli government official” to discredit presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko and boost Yanukovych.
Manafort “orchestrated a scheme” to have what he called “Obama Jews” pressure the administration “to disavow Tymoshenko and support Yanukovych,” prosecutors said.
Tymoshenko was jailed in mid-2011 over a series of criminal charges that were widely seen outside Ukraine as politically motivated. Manafort was privately advised that the charges against her were largely manufactured, the indictment says.
Her Fatherland party had allied with a party known for housing anti-Semitic elements and Manafort sought to use this to criticize the support for Tymoshenko from a senior Obama cabinet official, according to the indictment.
“Manafort coordinated privately with a senior Israeli government official to issue a written statement publicizing [the anti-Semitism] story,” the indictment says.
“Manafort sought to have the [Obama] administration understand that ‘the Jewish community will take this out on Obama on election day if he does nothing.’”
The indictment does not mention the names of the Obama official who was targeted by the campaign, nor that of the Israeli.
However Israel’s defense minister Avigdor Liberman published a statement in October 2012, when he was foreign minister, attacking the Ukrainian opposition for co-operating with an anti-Semitic party.
In 2012, right-wing website Breitbart published a story by commentator Ben Shapiro attacking then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her support for Tymoshenko, citing in the opening paragraph Liberman’s own statement.
Liberman reportedly denied on Friday that he had ever met or spoken with Manafort.
After Yanukovych’s government fell during the Euromaidan protests of winter 2014, several of his government ministers fled to Israel.
Manafort could eventually be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison as a part of the deal, and will forfeit four real estate properties worth millions of dollars, as well as bank accounts and a life insurance policy.
The Republican political consultant, who worked for the Trump campaign for nearly six months in the middle of 2016, was already convicted in a separate jury trial on eight counts related to financial fraud in August.
Prosecutors say Manafort acted illegally as a lobbyist for Yanukovych and earned tens of millions of dollars which he laundered through Cyprus and other offshore banking locations and did not pay taxes on.
The indictment said he laundered more than $30 million into the United States to by properties and luxury goods and "cheated the United States out of over $15 million in taxes."
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Shame on M!