File - In this July 17, 2016 file photo, Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena, Sunday, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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Donald Trump's campaign chairman helped a pro-Russian governing party in Ukraine secretly route at least $2.2 million in payments to two prominent Washington lobbying firms in 2012, and did so in a way that effectively obscured the foreign political party's efforts to influence U.S. policy.People with direct knowledge of Gates' work said that, during the period when Gates and Manafort were consultants to the Ukraine president's political party, Gates was also helping steer the advocacy work done by a pro-Yanukovych nonprofit that hired a pair of Washington lobbying firms, Podesta Group Inc. and Mercury LLC.Gates told the AP that he and Manafort introduced the lobbying firms to the European Center nonprofit and occasionally consulted with the firms on Ukrainian politics.Podesta told the AP his firm worked closely with the nonprofit and with Gates simultaneously. But Podesta said Gates was not working for Yanukovych's political party and said Manafort was not involved.Gates, in contrast, told AP he was working with Manafort and that both he and Manafort were working for Yanukovych's party.The director of the European Center, Ina Kirsch, told the AP her group never worked with Manafort or Gates and said the group hired the Washington lobbyists on its own. She said she had met with Manafort twice but said neither Manafort nor Gates played a role in its lobbying activities.
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