Former Trump aide Manafort hires crisis communications firm

Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems win from coast to coast Falwell after Gillespie loss: 'DC should annex' Northern Virginia Dems see gains in Virginia's House of Delegates MORE's presidential campaign, has hired a crisis communications firm.

The move comes as Manafort faces scrutiny over possible ties to Russia centered on his past consulting work for officials in Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's pro-Russia government.

Manafort’s new spokesman is Jason Maloni, a former senior vice president and chair of the litigation practice at Levick who formed his own firm, called JadeRoq, late last year.

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“Paul retained me recently because he was getting a lot of media inquiries. Having some support in this area allows folks like you to get your answers faster and allows him to focus on other matters,” Maloni said in an email. 

FBI Director James Comey on Monday confirmed publicly that law enforcement is investigating possible ties between Trump campaign officials and Russia. Manafort is widely believed to be among the targets of that investigation.

Manafort on Monday said he “had no involvement” in Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, including its email hacking of prominent Democratic groups and figures, and never spoke to Russian officials who claimed involvement.

“The suggestion that I ever worked in concert with anyone to release hacked emails or sought to undermine the interests of the United States is false,” he said in a statement. 

"Despite the constant scrutiny and innuendo, there are no facts or evidence supporting these allegations, nor will there be," Manafort said, calling the issue a "blatant attempt to discredit me and the legitimacy of the election of Donald Trump."

Manafort has previously denied reports that he is under FBI investigation for his connections to Russia.

He has also said the Trump campaign had no involvement with the government of Vladimir Putin and denied playing a role in softening platform language about Russia's annexation of Crimea and broader military actions in eastern Ukraine during last summer’s Republican National Convention.

The White House, meanwhile, sought to distance Trump from Manafort on Tuesday. 

White House press secretary Sean Spicer described Manafort as someone who “played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.”

The New York Times on Monday night reported that documents had surfaced apparently showing that the Party of Regions — Yanukovych’s political party — funneled $750,000 to Manafort through an offshore account, listing it as a payment for 501 computers.

The documents, released to the Times by a member of Ukraine’s parliament, have not been independently verified by other media outlets. Serhiy Leshchenko, that politician, said the 2009 invoice is an attempt to hide the payment for work Manafort did for the pro-Russia political party.

In a public statement, Maloni said the allegations are “baseless” and should be “summarily dismissed.” 

Maloni spent 11 years at Levick before leaving last September but has owned his own firm before — called Black Arrow Media Strategies — in addition to working at other firms including DCS Group and Powell Tate.

Jordan Fabian contributed.