Paul Manafort Knew of His Inclusion in the Black Ledger Two Months before NYT Story

In spite of Fiona Hill’s warnings not to peddle in Russian backed disinformation, the seemingly single frothy right talking point today is to embrace the claim that Ukraine, like Russia, tried to tamper in the 2016 election.

None of them have noted the fact that Paul Manafort confessed that he discussed carving up Ukraine and how to win Michigan in a meeting where he talked about how to get back on the gravy train of Ukrainian oligarchs  Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov (as well as Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska).

Instead, they’ve tried to pitch Ukrainians standing up for the territorial integrity of Ukraine as anti-Trump, in contradiction to Trump’s sworn answers to Robert Mueller. They’ve also accused Republican-paid experts doing open source research on Russian and Ukrainian corruption of being Democratic operatives. In particular, they’ve misrepresented sworn testimony to launch a claim that Sergii Leshchenko was a source for the Steele dossier and/or he said something mean about Paul Manafort, the aforementioned confessed recipient of Ukrainian influence peddling during the 2016 election.

The other day, Leshchenko debunked such claims, in part by noting that the version of the Black Ledger he released had had the Manafort related entries stripped from it.

I published the first portion of the “black ledger” on May 31, 2016. I published 22 pages from the secret manuscript of the Party of Regions, which was sent anonymously to my official email address at the parliament’s domain. The document listed under-the-table cash payments to Ukrainian politicians, lawmakers, judges and members of the Central Election Commission. However, Manafort was not mentioned there. His name was not in the 22 pages I obtained.

I did not have any other pages except for these ones, although I now know it was an excerpt from more than 800 pages that the black ledger contained. Believe me, had Manafort’s name been in the pages I obtained, I would have published it, because I think Manafort helped establish one of the most outrageously corrupt regimes in the world, headed by Yanukovych.

I learned that Manafort was featured in the full version of the black ledger only on Aug. 14, 2016 when the New York Times reported it. The day before, I was contacted by a Times’ journalist and asked if I knew anything about Manafort in Yanukovych’s records. I said I didn’t, and it was true. If I had that information, I would have been the first to publish it.

Four days after the New York Times article, on Aug. 18, 2016, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, or NABU, officially confirmed that Manafort’s name appeared in the black ledger. According to it, he received cash payments of more than $12.7 million.

That raises the significance of something else Leshchenko notes (but which has largely escaped notice of the press here).

In a February 14, 2018 interview, member of the far right in good standing Steve Bannon told Robert Mueller that Manafort knew the story of his inclusion in the Black Ledger was coming two months before it came out in the NYT. (PDF 112-113)

Bannon told Trump he would take the position as Campaign Chief Executive.

At the time Trump was 16 points down, the campaign had no organization, no money, 75 % of the population thought the country was in decline, they were working with the “deplorables,” and Bannon had a 100% certitude that they would win . Bannon believed the big task was to give people permission to vote for Trump as commander in chief.

The next day Bannon met with Manafort, which was the same time that the news about the “Black Ledger” was breaking. Bannon was at campaign headquarters when Manafort told Bannon to come up to Trump Tower. When Bannon arrived, Manafort showed him something about a NY Times story about the ”Black Ledger” and $15 million dollars from the Ukraine. Bannon asked when t his story was coming out. Manafort replied that he had known about the story coming out for approximately 2 months and had not gotten involved in it. Bannon subsequently told Trump to keep Manafort, to not fire him, and to keep him around for a couple of weeks. Bannon called Kushner, and asked him to get back in order to do something publicity wise to counteract the negative press surrounding the story. Trump had asked Bannon at one time about “what was this thing with Manafort out of the Ukraine,” and they talked for approximately 15 minutes on it . Trump was never linked with other Russian news stories at the time, and he believed Manafort was a promoter . Trump was more worried about how they story made them look . Bannon believed that Trump talked with Manafort about the story.

There are several implications about this story, starting with the fact that Bannon didn’t think the story required Manafort to resign. Importantly, this means Manafort recognized that he would be implicated by the Black Ledger even though his name was not published in what Leshchenko released.

Significantly: If there was an impact by the story breaking in August 2016 — if it did damage to the Trump campaign — Trump has one person to blame for that. Paul Manafort, both because of his real corruption, but also because he didn’t warn the candidate.

Not Sergii Leshchenko. But Paul Manafort.

The same guy who Russian-backed Ukrainians had targeted for influence just 12 days before the story broke.

20 replies
  1. Fr33d0m says:

    I would think that anyone who relied on US support–especially against Russia–would be anti-Trump” because his love for all things Putin was fairly obvious, as was his lack of any moral compass (unless profit motive counts).

  2. timbo says:

    Thanks for bringing this up! (I looked for this information yesterday myself… and posted a similar link in other social media to the article you cite here from the Kyiv Post.)

    Yeah, these GOP Reps are basically lying about much of the Ukrainian “conspiracy” nonsense they’re trying to fling into the impeachment hearings, both today and for each and every other public hearing so far. So, thank you for trying to debunk this as, it appears, the principles involved in Ukrainian, are also trying to get across to the Ukrainian and American press. Hopefully the large TV broadcasters will pick up on the Kyiv Post article as it basically torpedoes much of the GOP talking points about Ukrainians interferring in the 2016 election for nefarious purposes.

  3. MattyG says:

    Slightly OT but have other Russia Investigation/Mueller Report characters besides Manafort popped up in the hearings yet? Any Deripaskas or Kilimniks work their way in? Nunes brings up the dossier – maybe it’s time for some Volume 1 in the hearing; say the Ukraine-Russia connections?

    • timbo says:

      Nunes would not be bright to continue to draw attention to Ukrainian oligarchs in my opinion… since it is reasonably conceivable that campaign funds have been rolling into his coffers that come from that direction.

      • MattyG says:

        Kremlin->GOP funding seems to be one of fires animating all the faux GOP ire – both in it’s efforts to divert attention from the source and to show their “donors” good faith.

  4. Mitch Neher says:

    I may very well be crazy, but . . . I seriously suspect that Paul Manafort is still hard at work trying to bring Victor Yanukovich back to power at least in the Donestk/Luhansk region of the eastern Ukraine that Russian proxy forces currently occupy.

    I have no clear idea as to why Trump, Giuliani and P. G. FUBarr would be playing ball with Paul Manafort’s “comeback campaign.” But I could crank out a few nebulous notions along those lines.

    Oops! I’m way for late for my daily appointment with the penalty box.

  5. NorskieFlamethrower says:

    The impeachment inquiry is rapidly working backwards from the blackmail of Ukraine toward the Russians and 2016. When the impeachment report and (I hope) referral is forwarded to the Judiciary committee, there must be an article proposed that includes conspiracy to defraud. The evidence is already collected, collated and identified in the Mueller report and needs only to be unlocked and presented in an article of impeachment that will not only complete the story of the last 4 or five years but will finish writing the history of this rolling coup back to 2000.

    • vicks says:

      Un-lock them up.
      Horowitz will be unveiling his report soon.
      Strike that.
      Barr and Trump’s pets from congress will soon be implementing the tired strategy of pumping up an alternative that is more pleasing to Trump supporters.
      My question is, can I assume Horowitz had access to the grand jury material for his investigation?

      • AndTheSlithyToves says:

        Plenty of MAGAhats yelling/predicting on the intertubes that the “indictments” will be delivered December 9.

    • Geoff says:

      I sometimes like to make a simple analogy when explaining this to people who have very little clue. Giuliani is the new Manafort.

      Basically a grifter, working “unpaid” for Trump, doing Trump’s dirty work, helping him to cheat and steal an election (Manafort in 2016 via the Russians, handing over stolen campaign info to Kilimnik, and Giuliani, in 2020, via the Ukranians, with the fake political dirt on Biden and the arms deal extortion) both handing Russia things they want (a weaker Ukraine) in order to get what they want in ($ in excess, Manafort to pay off oligarch debts and Giuliani using Fruman and Parnas to rig natural gas deals in their favor.) Both doing deals for themselves and others, as a way to make way more money than you can make legitimately and maintain their excessive egotistical lifestyles.

      For Trump, it’s all about power and survival, cozying up to other immoral leaders, and making a shitload of $. For others, it’s not much different, just a matter of ratios. A little less power, perhaps, but still ultimately about graft.

  6. Nehoa says:

    Maybe the frothy left should start asking how much Russian and Russian-friendly Ukrainian money has been flowing to GOP candidates, GOP-friendly super PACs and the NRA. It would explain much of why GOPers promote pro-Russia themes and positions. It would also serve as a bludgeon in the battle to shed light on the dark money infecting our political system.

    • P J Evans says:

      People have been asking. And looking at the available records – but it gets run through two or three different people/groups to launder it first.

      • tinao says:

        Nehoa, I have been waiting for more information on this subject. I agree it helps explain gop denial of russian conspiracies. Maybe Empy can! I think this is a huge piece that is missing.
        Thanks PJ, good info as always!

  7. Yette says:

    I just keep asking myself what could people see in Manafort to want to pay him $12M? IN interviews I’ve seen, he does not come across as a commanding presence. I’m sure he was making grand promises to oligarchs, but why would they shell out millions to this guy who was apparently not connected in US power circles, just doesn’t make sense.

    • greengiant says:

      Manafort is alleged to be the smartest of the bunch by a wide margin. He got paid for results in the US and in the Ukraine going back years and years. Knows how to “count” votes if you catch my drift. The original Nixon rat-fuckers like Segretti ( USC class of 1963) got their start hacking greek elections at USC. Stone was elected president of the young Republicans in 1977 with Manafort running his campaign.
      If not in this link then search elsewhere, The firm of Manafort, Stone and Black and co-worker Lee Atwater were the first successful combination of electioneering and lobbying services.

  8. harpie says:

    Marcy: None of them have noted the fact that Paul Manafort confessed that he discussed carving up Ukraine and how to win Michigan in a meeting where he talked about how to get back on the gravy train of Ukrainian oligarchs Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov (as well as Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska).

    I just ran across Deripaska‘s name in this new NYT article:

    Charges of Ukrainian Meddling? A Russian Operation, U.S. Intelligence Says
    Moscow has run a yearslong operation to blame Ukraine for its own 2016 election interference.
    Republicans have used similar talking points to defend President Trump in impeachment proceedings.
    Nov. 22, 2019, 1:34 p.m. ET

    […] Intelligence officials believe that one of the people the Kremlin relied on to spread disinformation about Ukrainian interference was Oleg V. Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who had ties to Mr. Manafort. After his ouster from the campaign, Mr. Manafort told [GATES] his former deputy later in 2016 that Ukrainians, not Russians, stole Democratic emails. Mr. Deripaska has broadly denied any role in election meddling. […]

  9. tony daniel says:

    I think Devin Nunez is in some deep shit as a result of Dr. Hill’s testimony. What I found most telling in her testimony was that she said that Trump thought that Kash Patel was in charge of US policy on Ukraine. When one looks at how Patel got a seat at the table at NSC, one need look no further than Devin Nunez. Remember, when Patel was still a part of Nunez’s staff, he, Patel, was one of the leading forces attempting to place the blame on Ukraine for election meddling in 2016.

  10. skua says:

    A rough sketch of the “black ledger” timeline

    2007 Manafort payment in “black ledger” (amount verified as received by Manafort’s firm)
    2009 Manafort payment in “black ledger” (amount verified as received by Manafort’s firm)
    Feb 2014 Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s pro-Russian government falls and Yanukovych flees to Russia
    March 2014 Russia invades Crimea
    ?2014? Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) receives “black ledger” of Yanukovych’s party
    31 May 2016 Serhiy Leshchenko publishes 22 pages from the “black ledger” he had received anonymously. Manafort not in those pages
    15 June 2016 Manafort aware that he is in “black ledger” (according to Bannon)
    2 August 2016 Manafort and K. Kilimnik meet to discuss current and future plans
    10 August 2016 Manafort tells bookeeper that 2.4M earnings from Ukraine is expected in November
    14 August 2016 NYT “Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Donald Trump’s Campaign Chief”
    17 August 2016 Trump receives his first security briefing and also re-organizes campaign to make Manafort less visible.
    ~18 August 2016 Serhiy Leshchenko has press conference showing Manafort’s name in “black ledger”
    19 August 2016 Manafort officially and notionally resigns from campaign
    May 2019 Trump rails “They tried to take me down!” when top advisors try to orientate him towards supporting Ukraine. “In Trump’s mind, the officials said, Ukraine’s entire leadership had colluded with the Democrats to undermine his 2016 presidential campaign.”

    This timeline excludes the Burisma events and Ukrainian anti-corruption events beginning April 2014.

    Hypothesis: A Manafort August 2016 “explanation” of why events in Ukraine were forcing his nominal withdrawal from Trump’s campaign may be at the root of Trump’s, “It’s a shakedown”, understanding of “the Russia investigation”.
    Question: Was “31 May 2016 Serhiy Leshchenko publishes 22 pages from the “black ledger” he had received anonymously” part of an extortion attempt by an anonymous party?

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