WASHINGTON, Aug. 15 (UPI) -- Paul Manafort, chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, denied he accepted cash payments while working on a Ukrainian political campaign.
His comments Monday came after The New York Times reported secret, handwritten ledgers of the pro-Russian political party of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, indicate $12.7 million in cash was allocated for Manafort in part of an illegal and undisclosed payment process. Manafort was employed as a political consultant by the Yanukovych re-election campaign at the time.
Ukraine's National Anti-Corruption Bureau officials alleged the payments were part of broad-based corruption within the Yanukovych administration. There is no evidence Manafort ever received the money, the Ukrainian report says, adding Manafort was not the target of the inquiry. Prosecutors noted he must have been aware of the financial dealings, though, which also allegedly included payments to election officials.
Yanukovych was removed from power in 2014. A violent protest in Ukraine began when it was revealed he traveled to Russia in self-exile.
Manafort issued a statement Monday, denying he received an "off-the-books cash payment."
"Once again, the New York Times has chosen to purposefully ignore facts and professional journalism to fit their political agenda, choosing to attack my character and reputation rather than present an honest report. The suggestion that I accepted cash payments is unfounded, silly and nonsensical," he said.
Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, issued a statement late Sunday saying, "We have learned of more troubling connections between Donald Trump's team and pro-Kremlin elements in Ukraine. Given the pro-[Vladimir] Putin policy stances adopted by Donald Trump and the recent Russian government hacking and disclosure of Democratic Party records, Donald Trump has a responsibility to disclose campaign chair Paul Manafort's and all other campaign employees' and advisers' ties to Russian or pro-Kremlin entities, including whether any of Trump's employees or advisers are currently representing and/or being paid by them."
Manafort's work in Ukraine has drawn closer examination since a hack of the Democratic National Committee's emails, allegedly by Russian agents, and Trump's campaign comments about withdrawing aid to Eastern European members of NATO.