Paul Manafort’s friends have created a legal defense fund for the former Trump campaign chairman, who faces money laundering and bank fraud charges in the special counsel’s investigation.
“The Defense Fund is urging anyone who values civil liberties and wishes to show the ‘Deep State’ that they cannot exert their will on ordinary citizens, to join them in supporting the Manafort family as they grapple against the Special Counsel to clear their name,” reads the Paul Manafort Defense Fund website.
Manafort and his former business partner, Rick Gates, were first indicted on Oct. 30 on charges related to their pre-campaign work for a Ukrainian political party with close ties to Ukraine’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych. (RELATED: Manafort’s Lawyers Suggest Key Mueller Deputy Is Leaking To The Media)
Manafort and Gates were accused of failing to properly register as foreign agents and of laundering payments for the consulting work.
Gates, who also worked on the Trump campaign, has since pleaded guilty in the case. He is cooperating with Mueller’s prosecutors.
Manafort, a longtime Republican political consultant, has made several attempts to quash the cases against him. He has argued that Mueller does not have the jurisdiction or mandate as special counsel to investigate lobbying activities not directly related to possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government. Manafort’s work for Yanukovych largely ended in 2014, two years before he joined the Trump team. (RELATED: Trump Came Out Swinging For Paul Manafort)
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel on May 17, 2017. The appointment order said that Mueller could investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government as well as any crimes discovered during the course of the investigation.
Manafort’s lawyers have argued that the Obama Justice Department investigated Manafort’s Ukraine work back in 2014 but ended the investigation with no charges. Mueller’s team has claimed that new evidence has been found warranting a new investigation.
Manafort’s legal bills are believed to be well into the six-figure range. And because Mueller has frozen Manafort’s assets, the 69-year-old lobbyist and his family are “struggling to pay legal bills,” the legal defense fund website states.
The Manafort fund’s operators say that any money raised beyond what’s needed to pay Manafort’s lawyers will be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), “so that they may continue to uphold the civil rights of ordinary citizens.”
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