Bloomberg: Former Trump adviser lobbying for opponent of Manafort client
A former campaign aide to President Donald Trump is lobbying on behalf of a former Ukrainian prime minister who figures in the indictment of Paul Manafort.
Barry Bennett's firm Avenue Strategies Global LLC will provide government relations, public relations and strategic consulting services, including making contacts with members of the Trump administration and Congress, on behalf of Yulia Tymoshenko, who served as prime minister of Ukraine in 2005 and from 2007 through 2010. She was one of the targets of an undisclosed influence campaign led by Manafort, prosecutors allege, Bloomberg wrote.
The contract, filed with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, calls for monthly payments of $65,000.
Bennett said in an interview that Tymoshenko is a reformer who supports the West. "Paul was working for the pro-Russians," he said. "We're working for the pro-American."
He said his firm is "helping her arrange trips in the United States to meet with government leaders and so on."
Mueller's indictment of Manafort, a former manager of Trump's campaign, said he directed an extensive lobbying campaign on behalf of Viktor Yanukovych, a former president of Ukraine, including hiring two firms to lobby members of Congress. Among the issues they addressed, according to the indictment, was the "propriety of Yanukovych's imprisoning his presidential rival, Yulia Tymoshenko."
Manafort has plead not guilty.
Tymoshenko was Yanukovych's main challenger for the presidency in 2010. In 2011, Tymoshenko, who serves as the leader of the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) Party, was jailed on corruption charges by the government of Yanukovych, whose Party of Regions was represented by Manafort.
Manafort is also alleged in the indictment to have used offshore accounts to secretly pay a U.S. law firm $4 million for a report that justified her trial and imprisonment. Alex van der Zwaan, who worked for London office of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, pleaded guilty in February to making false statements to the special counsel's office on his contacts with Rick Gates, Manafort's partner. Gates plead guilty to his role in the lobbying operation on behalf of the Party of Regions the same month.
In 2015, Tymoshenko sued Yanukovych, Manafort and others in federal court claiming, among other things, that the defendants used laundered money in an effort to discredit her. That case was dismissed on procedural grounds.
Bennett served as a senior adviser for Trump's presidential campaign in 2016 after initially managing Ben Carson's effort. He formed Avenue Strategies with Corey Lewandowski, who managed Trump's campaign through the primaries, in December 2016. Lewandowski left the firm in May over concerns about representing foreign clients.
Bennett said his firm is representing Tymoshenko in her personal capacity. Should she run for office again, the filing says that Avenue Strategies Global would have to disclose her party as a client as well.