The Associated Press (AP) said it has obtained e-mails showing that a company run by Donald Trump's campaign chairman lobbied for Ukraine's Russian-backed president and did not meet legal requirements that it disclose those activities.
The e-mails show that a lobbying firm run by Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, sought to gain publicity and sway American public opinion in favor of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was forced out by a popular revolt in 2014.
The latest disclosures on August 18 about Manafort's Russian connections come as Republican presidential candidate Trump faces increasing criticism for his friendly views on Russia.
Manafort and Gates have steered Trump's campaign since April and have retained their titles despite a campaign shake-up this week.
Manafort said earlier this week that he never performed "direct lobbying support" for the governments of Ukraine or Russia.
But AP said his firm did such lobbying and should have registered and disclosed its role as an foreign agent. Under U.S. law, people who lobby on behalf of foreign political leaders must provide detailed reports about their actions to the Justice Department. A violation is a felony and can result in up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
On August 18, Ukraine’s National Anticorruption Bureau published excerpts from accounting ledgers from the political party of ousted President Victor Yanukovych documenting more than $12 million in under-the-table payments designated for Manafort.
The documents do not confirm that Manafort actually received the money, and his lawyers have denied that he participated in any illegal activities.