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McClatchy report details alleged Manafort flights to Russia, Ukraine

Posted at 8:00 PM, Nov 24, 2017

New flight records show that Paul Manafort traveled to Russia and Ukraine more extensively than previously known, McClatchy news reported Thursday.

President Donald Trump's former campaign manager traveled to Moscow at least 18 times prior to joining the campaign, and "was in frequent contact with Vladimir Putin's allies for nearly a decade as a consultant in Russia and Ukraine for oligarchs and pro-Kremlin parties," McClatchy reported, according to flight records the news outlet said it obtained from a government source in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

Manafort also took 19 trips over a 20 month-period after February 2014 while working for the pro-Russian Ukrainian Opposition Bloc party, according to the documents.

In addition to the flight records, McClatchy conducted interviews with more than a dozen individuals familiar with Manafort's activities, according to the report. CNN has not independently confirmed McClatchy's reporting.

Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, told McClatchy that Manafort "never -- ever -- worked for the Russian government."

"Paul Manafort did not collude with the Russian government to undermine the 2016 election," Maloni said, according to McClatchy. "No amount of wishing and hoping by his political opponents will make this spurious allegation true."

The news comes as the Trump campaign is under intense scrutiny and is the subject of several investigations, including a special counsel inquiry that is looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election as well as potential ties between Trump's campaign and Russia.

Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion between his 2016 campaign and Russia.

Manafort, along with former Trump campaign official Rick Gates, surrendered to special counsel Robert Mueller last month and both face charges relating to their undisclosed foreign lobbying on behalf of Ukraine. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Additionally, George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI after he lied about his interactions with foreign officials close to the Russian government.