Manafort's plan to 'greatly benefit the Putin Government'
WASHINGTON - The Associated Press has learned that President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Manafort wrote a 2005 strategy plan that he said "can greatly benefit the Putin Government." At the time, U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush were growing worse.
Manafort's arrangement was with Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally. Manafort signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006 and maintained a business relationship until at least 2009. The work was described in interviews with people familiar with it and confidential business records obtained by the AP.
Manafort confirmed to the AP that he worked for Deripaska but said the work was being unfairly cast as inappropriate.
The White House distanced itself from Manafort Wednesday, saying his secret work for a Russian billionaire detailed in an Associated Press report happened during "the last decade."
White House press secretary Sean Spicer says nothing in Wednesday's AP report references any action by the president, the White House or any Trump administration official.
Spicer says Trump was not aware of Manafort's clients from the past decade and there are "no suggestions" Manafort did anything improper.
Spicer also says former presidential rival Hillary Clinton had her own Russia ties. He says Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta sat on the board of a Russian-based energy company and Hillary Clinton was "the face of a failed Russia reset policy."