Trump campaign chief Manafort: Dark knight of lobbyists

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NEW YORK, Aug 17, (APP/AFP) – Paul Manafort,  Donald Trump’s campaign chairman who was thrust into the headlines this week in connection with a Ukrainian corruption investigation, is a formidable Republican strategist who spent years lobbying for rogues and dictators.

The smooth-talking, sharply dressed 67-year-old has become the public  face of the most controversial US presidential campaign in living memory: a  professional spokesman who never strays off message as he bats aside  allegations of a campaign in disarray or a candidate going off the rails.

In a 40-year career he advised the Republican presidential campaigns
of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole; he or his firms, such as the now defunct Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly, have been paid millions to lobby for or burnish the reputations of foreign clients.

“Name a corrupt despot, and Black, Manafort will name the account:
Ferdinand Marcos, $900,000 a year; the now deposed Somalian dictatorship,  $450,000; the drug-linked Bahamian government $800,000,” wrote Spy magazine in a 1992 article about lobbyists.

But the client who has landed the Trump campaign in hot water is
Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Kremlin former president of Ukraine whom Manafort helped rebrand until the leader fell from power during a popular uprising in 2014.

Others were Angolan warlord Jonas Savimbi, whose rebel group got $250  million under Reagan and Bush in its war against Angola’s socialist government, the Philippines president Marcos and the late Zaire dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.