Friday morning, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump issued a brief statement announcing the resignation of his campaign's chairman, Paul Manafort.
"This morning Paul Manafort offered, and I accepted, his resignation from the campaign," he said. "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. Paul is a true professional, and I wish him the greatest success."
Manafort, who had joined the Trump campaign during a period of turmoil over previous campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, but in the past few days had become the center of his own controversy regarding alleged secret payments from the former pro-Russian government in Ukraine. Manafort denied the allegations, first made public in a New York Times report on Monday, but a Ukrainian member of parliament corroborated the newspaper report on Friday.
Serhiy Leshchenko, a member of President Petro Poroshenko's parliamentary faction, said Manafort was paid $12 million over five years to finance election services, such as carrying out exit polls, buying computers, and conducting research. The payments were itemized on secret ledgers belonging to then-President Viktor Yanukovich's Party of Regions.
Ukrainian anti-corruption investigators have corroborated the existence of what they called a "black ledger" of payments made by Yanukovich's party but stressed that they could not establish whether Manafort himself received money.
"Manafort didn't work for free in Ukraine, he served the Party of Regions for over 10 years and it is clear that his work was paid," Leshchenko told a news conference Friday. "The money was transferred in cash and it is impossible to trace the transactions, but I have no doubt as to the authenticity of these documents.
"If Mr. Manafort denies any allegations, I think he has to be interrogated into this case and prove his position that he was not involved."
Ukrainian anti-corruption officials have sought U.S. assistance in their investigation. The fall of Yanukovich's government due to claims of corruption and close ties to Russia led to Russia's eventual invasion and subsequent annexation of Crimea.
Leshchenko's allegations came at a time when the Hillary Clinton campaign was already accusing the Trump camp of having "close ties" to Russian president Vladimir Putin. Earlier this week, Trump demoted Manafort from his role as campaign manager, replacing him with the tandem of Kellyanne Conway and Breitbart News Chairman Steve Bannon.
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