Ukraine has frozen a number of investigations into President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, seemingly out of fear that the White House could potentially retaliate, The New York Times reports. The cases stem from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which Trump has slammed as a “witch hunt,” with Ukraine’s decision to freeze the probes coming amid the sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles from the U.S. to Kiev.
“In every possible way, we will avoid irritating the top American officials,” explained Volodymyr Ariev, a member of Parliament who is close to Ukraine President Petro O. Poroshenko. “We shouldn’t spoil relations with the administration.”
Manafort has been charged with conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to launder money. Ukraine investigators had been following four cases involving Manafort and his consulting work for the former president of Ukraine. One case, for example, involved possible money laundering: a payment of $750,000 to Manafort from a shell company in Ukraine.
Ukraine receives heavy support from the U.S., in addition to military sales like the Javelin deal. The U.S. gives Kiev some $600 million in bilateral aid every year, the Times points out. Brian Klaas of the London School of Economics reacted to the Times’ report, tweeting: “This story has enormously worrying implications and raises the question whether Trump’s administration is effectively bribing Ukraine to not cooperate with Mueller in exchange for weapons sales.”