NYT: Manafort Doing Unregistered Work For Kurds Amid Federal Probe

Tom Williams/CQPHO

Paul Manafort has been doing work for Kurdish Iraqis who are advocating for an independence referendum up for a vote next week, work that appears to have started around the time the FBI raided Manafort’s home as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

The work has not yet been registered as lobbying under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), the New York Times reported, and Manafort’s spokesman would not say whether Manafort intended to register it.

Under FARA, those seeking to influence U.S. policy on behalf of a foreign entity or person are required to file paperwork declaring their work lobbying the U.S. government.

“If his work requires registration with FARA, Mr. Manafort will comply with the law,” Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni told the New York Times.

The White House and Justice Department did not respond to the New York Times’ inquiries asking if they had been contacted by Manafort as part of his work for the Kurds.

The referendum Manafort has been helping to advocate runs counter to the U.S. government’s stated interests in the region, with the State Department encouraging the Kurds “to accept the alternative, which is a serious and sustained dialogue with the central government, facilitated by the United States and United Nations, and other partners,” according to the Times report.

Manafort’s work was sought many months ago by an intermediary of Masrour Barzani, son of Massoud Barzani,  the Kurdish leader pushing the referendum, according to the Times.

Masrour Barzani’s spokesman told the New York Times that Manafort had been brought on “to assist in the referendum and in the aftermath of the referendum,” but refused to go into specifics, including how much Manafort is making and who is paying him.

Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign chairman during the summer of 2016, has come under increased scrutiny in recent months. His home was raided as part of Mueller’s Russia probe in July, and the congressional committees investigating Russian election interference have also signaled interest in his activities.

Manafort has a history of working for unsavory foreign figures and appears to have engaged in some shady financial practices, including a mysterious $1.2 million payout that appeared on a Ukrainian ledger. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that he had offered “private briefings” to a former business partner with Kremlin-ties during his time on the Trump campaign.