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Timeline: How Paul Manafort Got Caught Up In The Russia Investigation


Let's explore the unique financial world of Paul Manafort. President Trump's former campaign chairman is under house arrest. He's accused of conspiracy against the United States and of laundering money.


Manafort was charged by investigators probing Russia's interference in the 2016 election. President Trump's defenders contend Manafort's finances were not tied to that election. But what were his dealings really?

INSKEEP: Here's WNYC's Andrea Bernstein for our Planet Money podcast.

ANDREA BERNSTEIN, BYLINE: Before Paul Manafort, there used to be two distinct types of political operators. There were campaign people and there were lobbyists. Manafort combined those jobs. He worked for Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Bush I and also strong men like the Philippines' Ferdinand Marcos and Angola's Jonas Savimbi. Manafort made these foreign leaders look presentable in Washington. Then came Ukraine.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: (Foreign language spoken).

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Viktor Yanukovych.

BERNSTEIN: Viktor Yanukovych was a Putin ally who just lost a big race, so he hired Manafort, who controlled everything from his message to how Yanukovych combed his hair. It worked. Yanukovych won. All this time, according to a recently unsealed federal indictment, Manafort was collecting tens of millions of dollars from Ukraine. His alleged crime - he did not declare this money to the U.S. government like he was supposed to. According to the indictment, Manafort moved the money over the ocean by wiring it to places like a Virginia rug store and a Beverly Hills clothing store. And then big chunks began coming into real estate, like this Brooklyn brownstone on a nice block of four-story attached houses, Manafort's house. I chatted out front with neighbor Max Quimby (ph), a photographer.

Have you been inside?

MAX QUIMBY: I haven't. Have you?

BERNSTEIN: Well, we just kind of knocked on the door and peeked in. I mean, it looks nice. They have, like, all glass in the back.

QUIMBY: You know, obviously when they started, this is before it all blew up. And I think as it blew up or as things started to go wrong, you could just see things grind to a complete halt, you know? And then this was just a rush job at the end.

BERNSTEIN: Land records show Manafort bought this house in 2012 through a shell company for $3 million. Then in February 2016, Manafort borrowed $5 million on the house. That month, he went to work for Donald J. Trump. Manafort had an unusual pitch - he'd work for free.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: He's the chairman of the Trump campaign, the head coach, if you will, Paul Manafort.

BERNSTEIN: He got him all the way to August when The New York Times wrote about a ledger scribbled in Cyrillic of secret Ukrainian payments to Manafort. Manafort quit the campaign to avoid distraction, he later told CBS.


PAUL MANAFORT: Charges which after the election were proven to be false.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: You're not currently under investigation by any federal agency?

MANAFORT: I'm not. And the government of Ukraine said that the ledger was a falsified document.

BERNSTEIN: Manafort was under investigation. In October, he was charged with conspiracy against the United States and money laundering. In legal papers, Manafort says he was doing legitimate work, that it's not a crime to have foreign bank accounts and that almost no one gets prosecuted for not registering as a foreign agent. Manafort wouldn't speak to us but his spokesman emailed Manafort looks forward to having these allegations tried before a judge and jury. That trial is set for May. For NPR News, I'm Andrea Bernstein in New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF BROKE FOR FREE'S "ALM 28") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Andrea Bernstein

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