Paul Manafort, who served as Donald Trump's campaign manager during a crucial stretch of the 2016 presidential election, has had a very unflattering month.
First it was revealed that Manafort is going to register as a foreign agent due to his past work for a pro-Vladimir Putin government in Ukraine — the same work that contributed to his termination as Trump's campaign manager; then it came out that he had set up a shell company to receive payments from businesses tied to Trump.
Now there are reports that Manafort is meeting with a Chinese billionaire to offer advice on winning construction contracts under the $1 trillion infrastructure project Trump has been planning.
On Tuesday, Manafort met with Pacific Construction Group founder Yan Jiehe to discuss investments in American infrastructure projects, according to a report by the Financial Times. The Times also reported that Jiehe said the meeting would specifically discuss how he could effectively navigate the infrastructure boom expected to occur during Trump's term. Jiehe also reportedly pointed to a map of the United States, saying that "the map that we’ve hung up here is for Trump’s special envoy."
Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, first told the Times that Manafort's trip to China had not been about business. He later provided clarification:
"The Pacific Construction Group was an impromptu meeting added to Mr. Manafort’s schedule at their request because the Chinese are interested in U.S. infrastructure. However, his work does not involve any current or future infrastructure projects or contracts in the United States. As he has said before, he is not engaged in government affairs or lobbying for corporations, governments or individuals."