Trump's Top Lawyer Tried To Secretly Divert Money From W.H. Defense Fund To Manafort
President Donald Trump's top lawyer, John Dowd, tried to divert money from the White House legal defense fund and give it to Paul Manafort and Richard Gates, in order to help them out with their legal defense while facing trial from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the Wall Street Journal is reporting.
Such a move could be perceived as an attempt to bribe Manafort and Gates in exchange for their silence, aka the Don't Flip fund.
In fact, Dowd also pledged to personally donate the 25 grand to Manafort in an email to associates of the president just one day before Gates pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate against Manafort.
President Trump's advisers ultimately decided to not make the move after determining that they could face legal risks for doing so. But, what's telling is, they tried to make it happen.
So Gates testified against Manafort. He cooperated with investigators during the initial trial to help secure a conviction. The fact that the White House Legal Defense Fund could have been used for both Gates and Manafort, which could have led to an uncooperative investigation - well that's just crazy. Why did the Trump administration even consider such a move?
Since then, Dowd has resigned.
Fast forward a bit. Now Manafort's trial is over with. He faces sentencing for tax evasion and he's cooperating with Mueller in a plea deal to avoid a second trial for the counts he wasn't convicted on, after a lone juror decided to hold out.
No one knows what he has told Mueller, yet. All we know is that Trump is going around telling everyone that "as long as Manafort tells the truth, no problem."
This implies that the president may be insinuating Manafort could lie about something.
Which brings us back to original story: If Manafort does reveal something damning on Trump, which he may already have, the fact that the White House was looking for a way to pay for his legal defense and the defense of Gates, in order to keep him from being a cooperating witness, will be another strike against Trump and his cronies.
Trump maintains that Manafort was only with him "for a very short time," while running his campaign for four months, but that may be all the time he needed.