Paul Manafort, the Republican campaign veteran who is chairman for Donald Trump's White House bid, was reportedly engaged in a secret effort to influence Americans on behalf of the reigning pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. The Associated Press has the story:

Emails obtained by The Associated Press shed new light on the activities of a firm run by Donald Trump's campaign chairman. They show it directly orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine's ruling political party, attempting to sway American public opinion in favor of the country's pro-Russian government. Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, never disclosed their work as foreign agents between 2012 and 2014 as required under federal law. The lobbying included attempts to gain positive press coverage of Ukrainian officials in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and AP. Another goal: undercutting American public sympathy for the imprisoned rival of Ukraine's president.

Rick Gates, the Manafort associate, is also a Trump campaign aide.

Manafort had worked for Viktor Yanukovych, the president of Ukraine from 2010 until he was deposed in 2014, and his pro-Putin Party of Regions. Earlier this week, the New York Times reported on a "secret ledger" in the Ukraine capital of Kiev demonstrated Manafort's firm had received more than $12 million in off-the-books cash payments for his work on behalf of the party. On Thursday, the country's top anti-corruption prosecutor confirmed the existence of the ledger, and the listing of Manafort's name, to CBS News.

Manafort has denied that he received the cash payments.

The Trump campaign, which Manafort had been effectively running for most of the summer as its chairman, recently hired a new campaign manager, veteran GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway, and a CEO, former Breitbart News chairman Stephen Bannon. The reshuffle suggests Manafort's role in the campaign is being deemphasized.