December 12, 2018 – Ukraine court rules Manafort disclosure caused ‘meddling’ in U.S. 2016 election

In Email Timeline Post-Election 2016, Email/Dossier Investigations by Katie Weddington

Artem Sytnik (Credit: Oleksandr Stashevskyi/The Associated Press)

“A court in Ukraine has ruled that officials in the country violated the law by revealing, during the 2016 presidential election in the United States, details of suspected illegal payments to Paul Manafort.

2016, while Mr. Manafort was chairman of the Trump campaign, anti-corruption prosecutors in Ukraine disclosed that a pro-Russian political party had earmarked payments for Mr. Manafort from an illegal slush fund. Mr. Manafort resigned from the campaign a week later.

The court’s ruling that what the prosecutors did was illegal comes as the Ukrainian government, which is deeply reliant on the United States for financial and military aid, has sought to distance itself from matters related to the special counsel’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential race.

(…) After President Trump’s victory, some politicians in Ukraine criticized the public release by prosecutors of the slush fund records, saying the move would complicate Ukraine’s relations with the Trump administration.

In Ukraine, investigations into the payments marked for Mr. Manafort were halted for a time and never led to indictments. Mr. Manafort’s conviction in the United States on financial fraud charges related to his work in Ukraine was not based on any known legal assistance from Ukraine.

Serhiy Leshchenko (Credit: Efrem Lukatsky/The Associated Press)

Two Ukrainian members of Parliament had pressed for investigations into whether the prosecutors’ revelation of the payment records, which were first published in The New York Times, had violated Ukrainian laws that, in some cases, prohibit prosecutors from revealing evidence before a trial.

Both lawmakers asserted that if the release of the slush fund information broke the law, then it should be viewed as an illegal effort to influence the United States presidential election in favor of Hillary Clinton by damaging the Trump campaign.

The Kiev District Administrative Court, in a statement issued Wednesday, said that Artem Sytnik, the head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, the agency that had released information about the payments, had violated the law. The court’s statement said this violation “resulted in meddling in the electoral process of the United States in 2016 and damaged the national interests of Ukraine.”

The court also faulted a member of Ukraine’s Parliament, Serhiy A. Leshchenko, who had commented on Mr. Manafort’s case and publicized at a news conference materials that the anti-corruption bureau had already posted on its website.

Mr. Leshchenko said he would appeal the ruling, and that the court was not independent and was doing the bidding of the Ukrainian government as it sought to curry favor with the Trump administration.” (Read more: The New York Times, 12/12/2018)  (Archive)