Matt Rourke / AP

Financial records confirm that Paul Manafort's firm received at least $1.2 million in payments from clients, which were originally listed on a handwritten ledger that surfaced in Ukraine in August when Manafort was still Trump's campaign chairman, The Associated Press reported.

Why it matters: Although the details of the ledger are unrelated to the 2016 presidential election, the newly-confirmed payouts suggest Manafort had pro-Russia operations while he was managing Trump's presidential campaign — and he is currently part of a larger FBI investigation into Trump campaign members and their potential ties to Russia.

Manafort's firm: He had a lobbying firm called Davis Manafort located in Kiev, Ukraine, for many years where he acted as a consultant for the country's pro-Russian ruling political party at the time, when Viktor Yanukovych was president. Yanukovych was also Manafort's main client, and some Ukrainian officials think the payments indicate evidence of a corruption scandal between Yanukovych's party and various clients of Manafort's firm.

The initial documents: The ledger, which originally surfaced in August, showed $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments from Yanukovych's political party to Manafort between 2007-2012, per the country's National Anti-Corruption Bureau. The bureau argued that the payments were off-the-books and illegal, often going to election officials.

More money, more problems: "Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Donald Trump's Campaign Chief." Trump fired Manafort as his campaign chairman in August when the New York Times broke the story of his firm's connections to Yanukovych and his pro-Russia political party.

The confirmed payments, obtained by AP:

  • November 2007, a payment of $455,249 from Graten Alliance Ltd., a now-inactive company that had been registered in Belize.
  • Oct. 14, 2009, a payment of $750,000 from the Party of Regions. A Ukrainian lawmaker argued in March that this payment was part of a larger money-laundering effort conducted by Yanukovych's political party.

Odd detail: The October 2009 payment invoice was actually addressed to Neocom Systems Ltd., which is another company that had been registered in Belize, but the banking details (address, account and routing numbers) belonged to Manafort's Wachovia National Bank account in Alexandria, Virginia.

The explanation: Although Manafort had previously disputed the authenticity of the ledger, he said in a statement to AP that "any wire transactions received by my company are legitimate payments for political consulting work that was provided. I invoiced my clients and they paid via wire transfer, which I received through a U.S. bank," adding that he was paid according to his "clients' preferred financial institutions and instructions."

The explanation pt. 2:"Mr. Manafort's work in Ukraine was totally open and appropriate and wire transfers for international work are perfectly legal," Jason Maloni, Manafort's spokesman, said in an email statement today.

What's next: Ukrainian officials have been investigating Manafort's involvement with Yanukovych, particularly after he was ousted as president in 2014 and fled to Russia, which is also when Ukrainian assets were stolen. There's no telling whether things will go, but between the Ukrainian and FBI investigations, Manafort's financial disclosures and ties to Russia will continue to be under scrutiny.

Go deeper

Amy Harder, author of Generate
34 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Climate change goes mainstream in presidential debate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty

The most notable part of Thursday’s presidential debate on climate change was the fact it was included as a topic and assumed as a fact.

The big picture: This is the first time in U.S. presidential history that climate change was a featured issue at a debate. It signals how the problem has become part of the fabric of our society. More extreme weather, like the wildfires ravaging Colorado, is pushing the topic to the front-burner.

Finally, a real debate

Photo: Morry Gash/AP

A more disciplined President Trump held back from the rowdy interruptions at tonight's debate in Nashville, while making some assertions so outlandish that Joe Biden chuckled and even closed his eyes.

  • A Trump campaign adviser told Axios: "He finally listened." 

The result: A real debate.

Biden to Trump: "I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life"

Former VP Joe Biden pushed back Thursday against allegations from President Trump, saying he had never profited from foreign sources. "Nothing was unethical," Biden told debate moderator Kristen Welker about his son Hunter's work in Ukraine while he was vice president.

Why it matters: Earlier on Thursday, Hunter Biden's former business partner, Tony Bobulinski, released a statement saying Joe Biden's claims that he never discussed overseas business dealings with his son were "false."