Trump campaign chief Manafort resigns amid Ukraine probe | News | DW | 19.08.2016
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Trump campaign chief Manafort resigns amid Ukraine probe

Paul Manafort, campaign chairman for US presidential candidate Donald Trump, has resigned amid allegations linked to his work in Ukraine. Trump called him "a true professional."

US Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump announced Friday that he had accepted Paul Manafort's resignation as his campaign manager after it was offered in the morning.

"I am very appreciative for his great work in helping to get us where we are today, and in particular his work guiding us through the delegate and convention process," Trump said in a statement.

The resignation comes two days after Trump shook up his campaign staff in the face of his sinking popularity ratings.

Ukraine dealings?

Manafort is also stepping down amid growing allegations related to his work on behalf of a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.

Ukrainian anti-corruption authorities said on Friday they were investigating him after documents revealed possible secret payments allocated to Manafort to the tune of more than $12.7 million (11.21 million euros) from Ukraine's pro-Kremlin Party of Regions.

But the National Anti-Corruption Bureau emphasized that the mention of Manafort's name in the party's "black ledger" did not mean he had actually received the money.

Manafort has denied any wrongdoing. On Monday, in response to an earlier media report that carried the allegations, he issued a statement in which he said he had "never received a single 'off-the-books cash payment' as 'reported' by the 'The New York Times,' nor have I ever done work for the governments of Ukraine or Russia."

'Troubling connections'

Party of Regions was Ukraine's ruling political party until early 2014, when Kremlin-friendly now former-President Vikctor Yanukovych was toppled amid mass protests calling for the country to move closer to the West. His ouster was followed by Russia's annexation of Ukraine's southern Crimea region and an insurgency by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine that Kyiv and many Western countries say has received considerable support from Moscow.

Trump's campaign has been notable, among other things, for the candidate's favorable comments about Russian President Vladimir Putinand the approval he has expressed of the Crimea annexation.

USA Donald Trump und Paul Manafort

Trump's support of Putin has surprised some observers

On Friday, respected Ukrainian lawmaker Sergiy Leshchenko added to the controversy surrounding Manafort by alleging that he had worked with a Washington lobby group that promoted the Party of Regions and Yanukovych's image in the United States.

The campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has spoken of "troubling connections between Donald Trump's team and pro-Kremlin elements in Ukraine."

tj/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP)

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