Speed Reads

Plot twist

Paul Manafort may have had a hand in Russia's annexation of Crimea

A new report by The Times of London out Wednesday suggested Donald Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, may have played a role in Russia's annexation of Crimea. In a memo written by a Ukrainian prosecutor last year, Manafort is accused of helping Viktor Yanukovych's pro-Russian Party of Regions organize protests against NATO and Kiev that led to the cancelation of NATO exercises. Yanukovych, whose organization is now designated as "criminal," has been largely credited with paving the way for the annexation:

The memo says: "It was [Manafort's] political effort to raise the prestige of Yanukovych and his party — the confrontation and division of society on ethnic and linguistic grounds is his trick from the time of the elections in Angola and the Philippines. While I was in the Crimea I constantly saw evidence suggesting that Paul Manafort considered autonomy [from Ukraine] as a tool to enhance the reputation of Yanukovych and win over the local electorate." [The Times]

Though the memo outlined possible options for prosecuting Manafort for "conspiring with a criminal organization" and "inciting ethnic hatred and separation," charges were never pursued because of a "lack of evidence" after the annexation, The Times reported.

These accusations come on the heels of Manafort's demotion within the Trump campaign and reports that he helped a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine to secretly send millions to lobbying firms in Washington, D.C. Read the full report at The Times.