The Ukrainian government set aside millions of dollars in cash payments for Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, while he was a political consultant in the country, the New York Times reported late Sunday.
Ukrainian anti-corruption investigators found in a secret ledger that former president Viktor Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party designated $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments for Manafort between 2007 and 2012.
Investigators claimed the money was part of an "illegal off-the-books" payment system operated by Yanukovych’s government, which employed Manafort as a consultant at the time, the New York Times reported.
The anti-corruption officials said the handwritten ledgers that disclosed the cash payments did not make clear whether Manafort actually received the payments. Manafort’s lawyer, Richard Hibey, said the Trump aide did not receive "any such cash payments."
Manafort called the report "unfounded, silly, and nonsensical" in a statement Monday.
"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," Manafort said.
Manafort resigned from his post as a political consultant for Yanukovych in 2014 ahead of the former Ukrainian president’s ousting.
The New York Times reported that Yanukovich "relied heavily" on Manafort’s advice and his consulting firm helped the former president and his Party of Regions win several elections.
"During that period, Mr. Manafort never registered as a foreign agent with the United States Justice Department–as required of those seeking to influence American policy on behalf of foreign clients–although one of his subcontractors did," the Times noted.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, condemned Trump’s "troubling connections" to Russia following the report’s publication.
"Given the pro-[Russian President 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." Mook said in a statement Sunday evening.
A group of 37 former ambassadors, senior administration officials, and military officers, including several Republicans, penned an open letter earlier this month condemning Trump’s "disgraceful" comments calling on Russia to hack and release Clinton’s 30,000 deleted State Department emails. Trump also came under fire for suggesting he would consider recognizing Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, which the U.S. deems illegitimate.