Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for Donald Trump and the target of an FBI probe into Russian election interference, has been telling potential clients that he’s still got access to the president.
Manafort has recently told a Chinese construction magnate that he could persuade the Trump administration to support any deal they made together because he remains in contact with the president and his team despite the federal investigation of his campaign activity, reported Politico.
He’s also reportedly working with a telecommunications firm seeking regulatory approval from governments in Asia and the Middle East, as well as an investment fund claiming links to the Chinese government, the website reported.
“He’s going around telling people that he’s still talking to the president and — even more than that — that he is helping to shape Trump’s foreign policy,” said a lawyer involved in discussions with the Chinese builder.
Manafort largely has avoided registering with the U.S. government as a foreign agent or lobbyist, but he retroactively filed reports with the Department of Justice on his work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.
The White House did not respond to requests for comment on Manafort’s recent activity, but his spokesman insisted he is not currently “engaged in government affairs/lobbying or public relations work for corporations, governments, or individuals.”
Politico reported that a half dozen people who had done business with Manafort said he had indicated that he offered political advice to Trump and his team as recently as two months ago, unti the Russia investigation began to heat.
That presents a potential problem for the White House, according to some Trump allies.
“Paul certainly has a knack for making big deals, but it would problematic for the administration to allow China to buy Puerto Rico’s debt and to have Paul involved in the deal,” said one outside Trump adviser. “It would be problematic to have Paul representing himself as a liaison to the Trump administration on any deal, given the FBI investigation.”