FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
August 19, 2016
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's campaign chairman, made a fortune and revived his political consultant career in Ukraine beginning with a 2005 contract with steel magnate Rinat Akhmetov, The Washington Post details, but Manafort's subsequent work for Ukraine's ruling party and since-ousted Moscow-aligned president, Viktor Yanukovych, might send him to jail, according to newly uncovered documents and emails.

The most serious legal problem for Manafort is that he and his Trump campaign deputy, Rick Gates, did not register as foreign agents for their covert work directly running a lobbying operation in Washington on behalf of Ukraine's government, The Associated Press reports, citing emails it has obtained. The emails show Gates' direct management of a lobbying effort via two lobbying firms, Mercury and the Podesta Group (run by Tony Podesta, brother of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta), and former employees at both firms say Manafort — Gates' boss at DMP International — personally oversaw the campaign and spoke with them on the phone.

Also on Thursday, Ukraine's National Anti-Corruption Bureau posted on Facebook 22 instances where Yanukovych's Party of Regions earmarked $12.7 million in "under the table" payments to Manafort, though there is no proof Manafort ever received that money. "Under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act, people who lobby on behalf of foreign political leaders or political parties must provide detailed reports about their actions to the Justice Department," AP says. "A violation is a felony and can result in up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000."

Politically, AP adds, "Manafort and Gates' activities carry outsized importance, since they have steered Trump's campaign since April. The pair also played a formative role building out Trump's campaign operation after pushing out an early rival." Manafort's relationship with Konstantin Kilimnik, a protégé who rose from interpreter to head of Manafort's Ukraine office, is also under scrutiny, given Kilimnik's well-known background with Russia's military intelligence, as detailed by Politico. Kilimnik says he traveled to the U.S. and met with Manafort as recently as this past spring.

Manafort said earlier this week that he had not personally received "any such cash payments" from the Party of Regions (though Manafort's statement "left open the possibility that cash payments had been made to his firm or associates," The New York Times notes), and he and Gates have maintained that they did no work for Ukraine that required registering as foreign agents. Neither had anything to add to those statements on Thursday. You can read more about Manafort's business in Ukraine and ties to its pro-Russian political and business class at AP, The Washington Post, Politico, and The New York Times. Peter Weber

5:16 p.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Dow Jones closed Thursday afternoon down more than 274 points as investors were rattled by the chaos engulfing the Trump White House in addition to a deadly terrorist attack in Barcelona. The 1.2 percent drop in the Dow made for the index's biggest drop in three months and its second-worst day of the entire year. The Nasdaq Composite also posted a 1.9 percent slide, while the S&P 500 plunged 1.5 percent.

The market was particularly spooked by the idea that former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn could resign from President Trump's National Economic Council, Barron's reports, given Cohn is in charge of the administration's tax reform efforts. Cohn was reportedly "disgusted" by Trump's tepid response to the white nationalist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, which resulted in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Kimberly Alters

4:56 p.m. ET

A van jumped the curb and plowed into a crowd in the center of Barcelona on Thursday. Thirteen people were killed and at least 100 were injured, Catalonian authorities said. Police have confirmed that the incident was a terrorist attack. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq news agency.

The driver of the van reportedly fled on foot after plowing into pedestrians in the city's historic Las Ramblas district, a popular tourist destination. Two suspects have been arrested. Local authorities in the Catalonian town of Vic — almost due north of Barcelona — have said they identified a second van linked to the attack in Las Ramblas, The Guardian reports.

Police have dismissed earlier reports that two armed men were hiding out in a bar following the attack. Becca Stanek

This is a breaking news story and has been updated throughout.

4:48 p.m. ET

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) thinks it's about time for President Trump's chief strategist Stephen Bannon to leave the White House. "I think it's important for the president to fire Steve Bannon. He should go," King, an ardent Trump supporter, said Thursday in an interview with WABC.

The tipping point for King was Bannon's latest interviews, in which he relished in the fact that the left is making the debate over Confederate monuments a discussion about race, contradicted Trump on North Korea, and openly talked about his fights with colleagues. "The race-identity politics of the left wants to say it's all racist. Just give me more. Tear down more statues. Say the revolution is coming. I can't get enough of it," Bannon told The New York Times in the aftermath of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.

For King, a man who once held hugely controversial hearings on the alleged radicalization of American Muslims, Bannon's comments went too far. "I mean, what he said the other day, where he was saying that he hopes the Democrats use race as an issue because that's a win for Republicans, that to me is exploiting a racial issue," King said. "That can't be allowed."

Watch it below. Becca Stanek

4:14 p.m. ET
Facebook/Star Wars

Star Wars Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi could be getting his very own movie. The Hollywood Reporter revealed Thursday that Disney is in the very early stages of developing a standalone film about the man who trained Anakin Skywalker.

There's not yet a script for the project, but Disney is reportedly in talks with Stephen Daldry, the Oscar-nominated director of Billy Elliot and The Hours, to direct. It's not yet clear whether Ewan McGregor, who has played Obi-Wan in the prequel trilogy, would reprise his role.

The Obi-Wan Kenobi movie apparently isn't the only Star Wars spinoff that Disney is considering: Other projects in development include standalone movies centered on Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett. And, of course, there's the next installment in the series, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, due out Dec. 15. Becca Stanek

3:35 p.m. ET

Republican Senate candidate Corey Stewart on Thursday tried to defend President Trump's condemnation of "both sides" for the violence at the Charlottesville, Virginia, white nationalist rally, only to be promptly shut down by CNN's Kate Bolduan.

Stewart, who is running to challenge Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D), acknowledged that the people at the rally shouting, "Jews will not replace us," should be condemned. But he then argued that those individuals were "not the issue here." "The issue is you've got the violent left," Stewart said.

He questioned the fact that "not even establishment Republicans have come out and condemned the far left group, Antifa, which has been espousing violence and attacking people." "Is it possible that it's because someone died who was counter-protesting?" Bolduan asked, noting that a woman was killed Saturday after a white supremacist demonstrator drove a car into a group of counter-protesters.

Stewart tried to twist that comment around. "You're trying to use this poor women's death to say that Confederate monuments should be taken down," Stewart said. "That's exactly what you're trying to say, Kate."

Bolduan attempted to explain this was actually not at all what she was trying to say, only to be repeatedly interrupted by Stewart. She eventually put her foot down: “Stop talking. Stop talking. Stop talking for a second. You're the guest on my show. I would like to continue the conversation with you, respectfully," she said.

With Stewart finally quiet, Bolduan clarified that she does believe there is "a time and a place to have a debate and a conversation about the appropriate place for Confederate statues." However, Bolduan said, "it stopped being about statues when people showed up with swastikas."

Watch the heated exchange below. Becca Stanek

3:12 p.m. ET

President Trump hailed Gen. John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing in a tweet Thursday, promoting the myth that the Philippine-American War officer had used bullets dipped in pigs' blood to shoot Muslims as a method of discouraging terrorism:

The tweet followed Trump's condolences to Barcelona after a suspected terrorist attack in the Spanish city left at least 13 dead. "Be tough and strong, we love you!" he tweeted.

Trump has previously touted Pershing as a disturbing example of how to deal with terrorism, telling the unproven story at a South Carolina rally in 2016: "[Pershing] took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pig's blood," Trump claimed. "And he had his men load his rifles and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person he said, 'You go back to your people and you tell them what happened.' And for 25 years there wasn't a problem, okay?"

The fact that there is no evidence at all to support the myth of Pershing's appalling executions — MSNBC writes that "the story appears to be a hoax spread via e-mail forwards" — is being highlighted by critics who note "the president said two days ago he waits for the facts before talking about attacks," as BuzzFeed News' David Mack points out. Jeva Lange

2:42 p.m. ET

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker (R) said President Trump "has not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation" in grave comments delivered at the Rotary Club of Chattanooga on Thursday. "The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to ... in order to be successful. And we need for him to be successful," Corker said.

The senator pointedly added that Trump does not appear to understand "what has made this nation great and what it is today."

The remarks followed a number of tweets from Trump on Thursday, some of which bashed Republican senators and others that defended Confederate monuments. Many reporters and analysts consider Corker to be something of a bellwether on Trump:

"We're at a point where there needs to be radical changes that take place at the White House itself," Corker said. "It has to happen." Watch his full comments below. Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads