Trump claims payments to Stormy Daniels and Playboy model were LEGAL

Trump: I am NOT a criminal. President claims payments to Stormy Daniels and the Playboy model were LEGAL because they didn’t come from his campaign, ‘they came from me’

  • Trump said payments to two women who accuse him of having an affair came ‘later’
  • He said they were legal because the funds ‘came from me’
  • Said if funds came from his campaign it might have been ‘dicey’
  • Regulations allow unlimited contributions to one’s own campaign but require disclosure 
  • Trump praised his former campaign manager Paul Manafort for not making a deal with federal prosecutors
  • Trump emphasized that 10 out of 18 counts could not be decided and has not ruled out a pardon for Manafort
  • He contrasted Manafort’s behavior with that of his former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to eight counts on Tuesday 
  • Jury of six men and six women returned verdict on Manafort at end of the first trial brought by Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe
  • He is found guilty of eight of the ten counts of fraud on the fourth day of deliberations – the jury deadlocked on the other ten
  • Prosecutors had outlined how he used tax and bank fraud to fund a lavish lifestyle, with his spending including a now notorious $15,000 ostrich jacket 
  • Cohen pleaded guilty to fraud and crucially to campaign finance violations for paying Stormy Daniels and a Playboy model on Trump’s order
  • Manafort now faces possibility of a lengthy prison sentence from Judge T.S. Ellis III who will ask for background reports and recommendations from both sides
  • Lobbyist remains in custody ahead of a second trial in Washington D.C. next month on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent
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President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he only knew about payments to a porn star and Playboy model ‘later’ and they were fully legal because no campaign funds were used.

Trump got asked about the payments – including $130,000 that went to porn star Stormy Daniels as part of a non-disclosure agreement, hours after his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign violations.

A federal charging document states that Cohen ‘coordinated’ with someone identified as ‘Individual-1’ who is Trump.  

‘Later on I knew. Later on,’ Trump told Fox News when asked if he knew about the payments.

‘They didn’t come out of the campaign, they came from me,’ Trump said of payments to women who accused him of affairs in 2016. Michael Cohen paid $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels and got reimbursement. Playboy model Karen McDougal was paid $150,000 in a deal with American Media Inc.

The president’s non-specific statement about the timing is belied by a tape-recording Cohen released of Trump and Cohen discussing a payment to Playboy model Karen McDougal, who like Daniels claims she had an affair with Trump. That conversation dates to September, 2016.  

‘But you have to understand, Ainsley,’ Trump told host Ainsley Earhardt, ‘what he did – and they weren’t taken out of campaign finance, that’s the big thing. That’s a much bigger thing. Did they come out of the campaign?’ Trump said.

‘They didn’t come out of the campaign, they came from me. And I tweeted about it.’

Trump continued:  ‘I don’t know if you know but I tweeted about the payments. But they didn’t come out of campaign. In fact, my first question when I heard about it was did they come out of the campaign because that could be a little dicey,’ Trump continued.

Trump defended the payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in an interview with Fox News

‘And they didn’t come out of the campaign and that’s big. … It’s not even a campaign violation. If you look at President Obama, he had a massive campaign violation but he had a different attorney general and they viewed it a lot differently,’ Trump said, turning the focus on his predecessor. 

Guilty: Paul Manafort faces up to 80 years in prison after being convicted of eight charges of fraud

Trump was pointing to Obama’s 2008 campaign, which paid a $375,000 fine imposed by the Federal Election Commission related to $2 million in contributions and 1,300 contributions that weren’t reported on time.

The infractions related to Obama’s campaign entity, not the candidate, and were part of a billion-dollar-enterprise. 

In the Cohen tape, Cohen talks to Trump about creating a shell company to pay American Media, Inc., publisher of the National Enquirer, as part of the McDougal deal. 

Trump’s defense of the payments to women came as he praised his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, now a convicted felon, of being a ‘brave man’ who didn’t ‘break’ under pressure in a tweet Wednesday – sharply contrasting him to Michael Cohen who ‘made up stories’.

He compared Manafort to his former personal attorney Cohen, who pleaded guilty to eight counts that included tax fraud and campaign finance violations in an attempt to cast doubt on Cohen’s truthfulness.

The tweet is the first indication of a likely strategy of how Trump plans to fight back against Cohen if he is used by the Robert Mueller special counsel probe, or by a future Democratic push for impeachment. It may also hint at a pardon for Manafort, although he faces a second trial in September on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent.

‘I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!,’ the president wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning.

He added: ‘A large number of counts, ten, could not even be decided in the Paul Manafort case. Witch Hunt!’

Trump has not ruled out a pardon for Manafort, who was found guilty of tax and bank fraud by a federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia, on Tuesday, a verdict that will likely bolster special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and undermine arguments from Trump’s supporters that the probe is baseless and politically motivated.

Manafort did not testify in his trial and didn’t make a deal with federal prosecutors. 

Cohen, meanwhile, told a federal judge on Tuesday that the payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal during the 2016 election were done ‘at the direction of the candidate,’ and ‘for the principal purpose of influencing the election’ – a revelation that could have legal and political implications for Trump.

He was pleading guilty to eight counts at a New York federal court at precisely the same time as Manafort’s verdict was delivered.

After four days of deliberation, a jury found Manafort guilty of eight counts of bank and tax fraud, which could send the former Trump campaign manager to prison for up to 80 years. 

Trump is praising is former campaign manager Paul Manafort, now a convicted felon, of being a ‘brave man’ who didn’t ‘break’ under pressure

Trump emphasized that 10 out of 18 counts in Manafort’s case could not be decided

Donald Trump hit his former lawyer with a searing-one liner on Wednesday morning after Michael Cohen’s attorney appeared on a sea of news programs to claim the sitting president is guilty of criminal acts

Trump attacked Cohen further as his former attorney’s own lawyer said his guilty client was only following the president’s orders in a series of television appearances

Cohen’s racquet: The president’s former lawyer slipped in to his apartment building in New York by a side entrance with with a tennis raquet bag. He has made no public statement since pleading guilty but his attorney has accused the president of committing a crime

In the side door: Michael Cohen was casually addressed as he returned home to his Park Avenue apartment hours after the president accused him of lying in his guilty plea

Trump also said the campaign finance violations his former lawyer claims to have committed at the direction of the president are ‘not a crime’ as he laid out his own defense on Wednesday morning in tweets.

Trump pointed to his predecessor, Barack Obama’s, campaign finance violations in 2012, and argued that they were ‘easily settled’ and did not result in jail time.

And the president laughed at Cohen is not very bright after his ex-attorney’s attorney appeared on a sea of news programs to claim the sitting president is guilty of criminal acts.

‘If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!’ the president said of the former legal counsel to the Trump Organization.

The evening prior, Trump signaled that he felt ‘badly’ for Cohen, his longtime fixer and former lawyer, who pleaded guilty to eight counts of fraud and campaign finance violations to avoid a trail that could end with a sentence of life in prison.

He said he was disgusted with the judicial system that led his ex-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, to be found guilty of eight financial crimes, as well.

Trump changed his tune on Cohen, however, after his former attorney’s lawyer jumped on television and said his guilty client was only following the president’s orders.

Cohen’s lawyer claimed in multiple appearances that Trump participated in illegal acts, and his client doesn’t need to offer evidence – the president’s lawyers have already done that.


The jury found Paul Manafort, 69, guilty of: 

  • Five counts of filing false income tax returns (one each for the years 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014). Each count carries three year statutory maximum
  • One count of filing a false FBAR Foreign Bank Account Report in 2012. Carries a five year statutory maximum
  • One count of bank fraud for a $3.4 million Citizens Bank loan. Carries a 30 year statutory maximum 
  • One count of bank fraud for a $1 million Bank of California loan. Carries 30 years statutory maximum

Lanny Davis said his client’s guilty plea draws on a letter that Trump’s current attorneys sent special counsel Robert Mueller admitting the president ‘directed’ Cohen to make the Stormy Daniels hush-money payoff. 

‘Let me make 100 percent clear: the evidence was provided definitively by Donald Trump’s lawyers,’ Davis said Wednesday. ‘It’s not a dispute. It’s not about credibility. It’s his lawyers in a letter used the word directed.’

Invoking Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who claimed it’s not a crime to lie to the American people, Davis said that it is federal crime to make illegal campaign contributions like the one that Cohen pleaded guilty to making on Tuesday afternoon.

‘President Trump committed a criminal act that corrupted our democracy,’ Davis on ‘Good Morning America’ charged. ‘That’s what the campaign finance laws are about.’

Davis told CBS, ‘He committed a crime. He should be indicted if he were not president, he clearly would be indicted and jailed for that crime. Whether he can be indicted as president of course, is not yet decided by the Supreme Court.’

‘It’s not about evidence, it is definitive indisputable that Donald Trump’s lawyers said in a letter to the Special Counsel that President Trump directed, the same word that Michael Cohen used in court yesterday under oath, directed Cohen to make illegal payments,’ he said on the network’s flagship morning program.

‘And why did he direct? Because he didn’t want his signature on the check. Why?’ Davis said. ‘Because he was covering up right before the election. Or else, why didn’t he do it himself?’ 

Trump did not dispute his involvement in the hush-money payoff to Daniels on Wednesday, including the claim that he ‘directed’ it. Rather, he argued that campaign finance violations are not crimes and Cohen should never have plead guilty to the charges.

‘Michael Cohen plead guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are not a crime. President Obama had a big campaign finance violation and it was easily settled!’ he said.

Trump preemptively accused Cohen of fabricating other claims he might have made to prosecutors as part of his plea deal, saying in a tweet: ‘I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!’

He went on to note that ‘a large number of counts, ten, could not even be decided in the Paul Manafort case,’ which he called a ‘Witch Hunt!’ – his preferred term for the special counsel probe.

In his reference to Obama, Trump appeared to be referring to the $375,000 in fines the Federal Election Commission levied on the former president’s 2012 campaign apparatus for repeatedly missing reporting deadlines.

The then-president’s campaign shrugged off the fee – one of the largest in American history – as the cost of doing business in a billion-dollar campaign that raised a record-breaking amount of money at an extremely fast pace.

DARKEST DAY: President Donald Trump looked pensive as he stepped off Air Force One upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Tuesday hours after learning that two of his former confidantes would be going to prison

Celebrity attorney Alan Dershowitz suggested Tuesday evening that Trump could get himself off the hook by similarly arguing that that violating FEC rules is not akin to committing a major crime.

‘Violation of election laws are regarded as kind of jaywalking in the realm of things about elections,’ Dershowitz told Fox News. ‘Every administration violates the election laws, every candidate violates the election laws when they run for president.’

Cohen’s crime was that he exceeded campaign contribution limits when he paid off a woman who said she had an affair with the president in order to influence the outcome of a presidential election.

He subsequently lied about the nature of the payment to the government, claiming falsely that income he generated in 2017 was for work he was doing on behalf of the president, when he was really recouping costs from the $130,000 hush-money payoff as part of an orchestrated cover-up.

In his guilty plea, Cohen says that he committed the crimes ‘in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office’ that was clearly Trump.

Cohen’s lawyer has claimed in multiple appearances since that Trump participated in illegal acts, and his client doesn’t need to offer evidence – the president’s lawyers have already done that.

Davis also settled the debate over whether Cohen should be pardoned by the president for the crimes he says he committed at Trump’s behest in another appearance, an interview on NBC’s ‘Today.’

The attorney who’s best known for his defense of Bill Clinton in the former president’s impeachment scandal claimed that Cohen would neither request a pardon nor accept a get-out-jail-free card if the White House came calling.

‘Not only is he not hoping for it, he would not accept a pardon. He considers a pardon from somebody who has acted so corruptly as president to be something he would never accept,’ Davis said. 

For his part Manafort faces anywhere between eight to 10 years in prison for falsifying tax returns, bank fraud conspiracy and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial records.

The conviction is the first major court victory for Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian election tampering, a probe that has divided Americans and come under attack from the White House.

What Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to doing 

Five counts of tax evasion. Avoided declaring $4.1 million in income earned in 2012 through 2016, depriving the government of about $1.3 million in tax revenue.

Making false statements to a bank. Failed to disclose a $14 million line of credit when taking out loans, including for the purchase of an $8.5 million summer home. Declared a net worth of $40 million when applying for a home equity loan, omitting the $14 million debt.

Campaign finance violations. Helped deal with ‘Individual-1’s relationships with women’ by identifying stories and keeping them from being published. Negotiated $150,000 payment to ‘model and actress’ and made a $130,000 payment to ‘an adult film actress.’ He caused and made the payments ‘in order to influence the 2016 presidential election.’ 

He faced up to 65 years in prison for what he is being charged with had he not pleaded guilty. 

The jury’s verdict defies Donald Trump, who last Friday called Manafort ‘a very good person’ and the trial ‘sad’.

Manafort had initially been charged with a total 18 counts of fraud. The jury deadlocked on the majority of the most serious counts, including seven of the nine bank fraud charges which each carried 30 years maximum prison time.

Manafort was convicted on all five counts of filing inaccurate tax returns for the years 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. These each carry a three year minimum sentence.

He was convicted on one of four counts, for the year 2012, of failing to disclose the existence of his offshore bank accounts. The jury could not agree on whether he was also guilty of this for the years 2011, 2013 and 2014. The single count carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Manafort was also convicted of providing false financial information to obtain a $1 million loan from the Bank of California and a $3.4 million loan from Citizens Bank. These charges each carry a maximum of 30 years in prison.

He was not convicted of seven additional bank fraud charges, including conspiracy to fraudulently obtain a bank loan and providing false financial information to Federal Savings Bank.

It is a stunning fall from grace for the jet-setting political consultant, who once spent $15,000 on an ostrich jacket and millions on high-tech gear for his Hamptons home, but now faces the rest of his life in a jail cell.

He will be sentenced by Judge T.S. Ellis after background reports and argument from both prosecution and defense over what sentence is appropriate. 

But he will remain behind bars regardless ahead of a second trial next month in Washington D.C. at which Manafort will try to fight charges that he failed to register as a foreign agent. 

The judge in that trial had kept him in custody over allegations of witness tampering – meaning that Manafort attended the trial from custody each day.

Outside court the lobbyist’s attorney hinted at a plea deal with Mueller to avoid a second trial, saying he was ‘evaluating all of his options.  

‘Mr. Manafort is disappointed at not getting acquittals all the way through, or a complete hung jury on all counts,’ said attorney Kevin Downing.

‘However, he would like to thank Judge Ellis for granting him a fair trial, thank the jury for their very long and hard-fought deliberations. He is evaluating all of his options at this point.’

The verdict will likely increase pressure on the White House, which has called on Mueller to shut down the investigation by September 1. 

It could lead to a pardon for Manafort from Trump – but the president had also distanced himself from the lobbyist during the trial, saying he should have been told about his tax issues. It is almost certain to lead to further angry reaction from Trump to the Mueller probe.

Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations ‘in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office’ earlier on Tuesday. His lawyer confirmed that the candidate referenced is Trump

Michael Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis says his client doesn’t need to provide evidence that Donald Trump directed him to commit crimes – the president’s lawyers have already done that

End of the road: Paul Manafort stood alongside his attorneys as the six men and six women of the jury returned their verdict. He showed no emotion as they delivered guilty verdicts on eight of the charges brought by Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe

 Now what happens: Judge T.S. Ellis III will decide whether to drop the ten charges which the jury said they could not reach a verdict on. Regardless, Manafort will be sentenced on eight fraud charges which could carry a sentence as high as 80 years in prison

Nothing to do with me: A defiant Donald Trump claimed the Manafort trial result was unrelated to him and added: ‘It does not have anything to do with Russian collusion.’

Present in court: Kathleen Manafort was present to see her 69-year-old husband found guilty by the jury. She had been in court for every minute of his trial

Indictment or impeachment: What happens to Trump next?

By Chris Pleasance 

President Trump appeared in peril as Paul Manafort was found guilty and Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to charges leveled as part of Robert Mueller’s election meddling probe.

So what comes next for Donald Trump himself?

Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, insists Trump is implicated in a crime because he ordered Cohen to make hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal before the 2016 election.

Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked the Russian election meddling probe as a ‘rigged witch hunt’, but on Tuesday it delivered two guilty parties

But the prevailing legal opinion is that Trump will not face criminal prosecution while in office, though there is nothing in the Constitution that strictly forbids it.

The text of Article 2, Section 4, and Article 1, Second 3, when taken together  imply that a president must be impeached and convicted by the Senate before he can be prosecuted, but does not outright say it.

Article 2, Section 4, makes clear what the impeachment power is.  

‘The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,’ it says. 

Article 1, Second 3, sets out the existence of the Senate and says: The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. 

‘When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

‘Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.’ 

That has led to legal debate in the past and the question even ended up before the Supreme Court in 1974 during the Watergate scandal, but a ruling was never made.

Justice Department guidelines say that a sitting President shouldn’t be charged with a crime while in office, but that could be subject to a challenge.

Even if Trump cannot be indicted on criminal charges, he could still be impeached for ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors’.

Lanny David (left), the attorney for Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen (right), argues that Trump is implicated in the crime – but it is unlikely a sitting president would be indicted on criminal charges

Impeachment requires a majority in the House to pass articles of impeachment against the president. 

The House Judiciary Committee then prosecutes the president in front of the Senate, with the Chief Justice presiding. 

There needs to be a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate to convict.

As things stand the Republicans control both houses, so it is highly unlikely that Trump will face impeachment so long as the status quo holds.

However, the Democrats are hoping that mid-term elections in November will hand control of both houses back to them, which would put Trump in trouble.

As one Republican lawyer told Politico, Cohen’s allegations that Trump forced him to make payments provides the perfect fodder for impeachment.

‘It’s the only excuse they’ll need. And believe me, they won’t need much of an excuse,’ he said.

On Tuesday, Trump urged people to vote Republican in the elections, warning that voting Democrat would lead to ‘open borders and crime’.

Trump could be impeached, though that is unlikely to happen unless the November mid-terms hand control of the House and Senate back to the Democrats

A CNN poll found that two-thirds of Americans would like Mueller to conclude the investigation before the midterm elections, and Trump allies such as Rudy Giuliani claim the special counsel has a legal obligation to do so.

But some legal experts have disputed this, and Mueller has shown no sign of slowing down.  

In addition to Manafort’s conviction, his team has already secured five guilty pleas and issued 30 indictments. Their targets in the U.S. include former Trump campaign aides and abroad, they include alleged Russian agents.

Trump tried to brush aside his former campaign chairman’s conviction as he spoke just hours later after landing in West Virginia for a rally.

‘I feel very sad about that, because it involved me, but I still feel, you know, it’s a very sad thing that happened,’ he said.

Trump did not take the same opportunity to praise his Cohen but he indicated that he sympathizes with his ex-attorney and his ex-campaign manager.

Walking over to reporters on the tarmac in Charleston, Trump said: ‘I feel badly for both.

‘I must tell you that, Paul Manafort’s a good man,’ he insisted.

In a flash of anger Trump berated Robert Mueller and his team of investigators.

‘This has nothing to do with Russian collusion. This started as Russian collusion. This has absolutely nothing to do – it is a witch hunt and it’s a disgrace,’ he said. ‘This has nothing to do with what they started out, looking for Russians involved in our campaign – there were none.’

Trump had an hour on his way to West Virginia to process the guilty verdict for Manafort and the guilty plea for Cohen. And still he was still in shock when Air Force One landed.

‘I feel very badly for Paul Manafort,’ Trump repeated. ‘Again he worked for Bob Dole, he worked for Ronald Reagan, he worked for many people.’

Decision time: Judge T.S. Ellis III will sentence Manafort after presiding over his trial

Pausing to take it all in, Trump added: ‘And it’s just the way it ends up.

‘It was not the original mission, believe me. It was something very much different. So it had nothing to do with Russian collusion.

‘We continue the witch hunt,’ he concluded.   

Trump has publicly vacillated on how to deal with Manafort, tweeting in the course of the trial first that Manafort ‘worked for Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other highly prominent and respected political leaders. 

‘He worked for me for a very short time. Why didn’t government tell me that he was under investigation.’

But later in the same day he tweeted: ‘Looking back on history, who was treated worse, Alfonse Capone, legendary mob boss, killer and ‘Public Enemy Number One,’ or Paul Manafort, political operative & Reagan/Dole darling, now serving solitary confinement – although convicted of nothing? Where is the Russian Collusion?’

Manafort spent the run-up to the trial in prison and was brought to court every day for the hearing. His wife Kathleen was present for every minute of it but he was warned not to turn round to her from his seat beside his attorneys.

The court had never heard how he cheated on her with a mistress who flaunted their relationship on Instagram – and that his daughters’ texts were hacked and leaked for the betrayal to be made public.

Prosecutors laid out a meticulously detailed, document-heavy case against Manafort, 69, during the two-week trial which focused on his lies over money which funded a lavish lifestyle.

‘Mr. Manafort lied to keep more money when he had it, and to get more money when he didn’t,’ prosecutor Greg Andres told the jury in his closing statement on Wednesday.

Prosecutors connected Manafort to at least 30 undisclosed offshore companies where they said he stashed $60 million in political consulting fees from his Ukrainian clients, evading taxes on $15 million.

Although Manafort failed to disclose this money to the IRS or his own tax preparers, he used it to fund his extravagant lifestyle, witnesses told the court.

Two luxury menswear retailers testified that Manafort spent over $1.5 million on custom suits and bespoke clothing between 2010 and 2014, often paying by foreign bank wire transfers

His purchases included a python jacket, a $15,000 ostrich coat, and a $21,000 on a limited edition, black titanium and crystal watch from the House of Bijan, known as the ‘most expensive men’s store in the world.’

Joel Maxwell, the owner of a Florida electronics company, told the court that Manafort paid him over $2 million over five years for electronic equipment, including internet and TV systems.

Manafort faces a second federal trial in Washington D.C. in September

That included an $18,000 karaoke machine and specialty TV screen from the New York-based luxury audio visual company Sensoryphile.

Michael Regolizio, a landscaper, testified that Manafort paid him around $460,000 from 2010 to 2014 on landscaping and lawn maintenance for his Bridgehampton home.

Regolizio said Manafort’s palatial 1.5.-acre Hamptons estate featured an enormous red-and-white flower bed in the shape of an ‘M’ for ‘Manafort.’

The property also included a tennis court with ‘hundreds of flowers planted’ around it and a pond with a massive waterfall feature, according to Regolizio.

Manafort wired the payments from accounts in Cyprus, witnesses testified.

From 2010 to 2014, millions of dollars flowed into Manafort’s bank accounts from his political consulting clients in Ukraine. But the money dried up after his main patron, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, was ousted from power in 2014.

Manafort’s extravagant spending habits left him unable to pay even basic bills such as medical insurance, according to testimony from his personal bookkeeper Heather Washkuhn.

Washkuhn, said Manafort became delinquent on many of his bills around 2015 and didn’t have enough money in his accounts to cover them.

He was also unable to pay a $200,000 American Express bill that he racked up by purchasing season tickets to the Yankees, according to prosecutors.

Washkuhn noted that on a few occasions Manafort also failed to pay her own bookkeeping fees – which she said were about $100,000 per year.

According to prosecutors, Manafort’s desperation for money led him to file false financial information with banks, in his effort to secure $20 million in loans.

Prosecutors said Manafort spent at least $6 million of his hidden offshore money on properties in New York and Florida.

This included extensive renovations at his $1.5 million home at the BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach and his mansion in Bridgehampton. Manafort also purchased a $3 million Brooklyn brownstone and a $2.8 million loft in SoHo, in addition to the 5-acre horse farm and condo he owned in northern Virginia.

In one of Manafort’s loan applications, he claimed his daughter Jessica and son-in-law Jeffrey Yohai used the SoHo apartment as a second home. But prosecutors said the couple didn’t actually live there and was renting the apartment out on AirBnB.

Yohai, a real estate developer who is now divorced from Manafort’s daughter, pleaded guilty earlier this year to unrelated federal crimes.

In late 2015, Manafort’s financial situation was so dire that his personal book keeper, Heather Washkuhn, was forced to ask Yohai for money from the AirBnB rental to cover Manafort’s delinquent bills.

His tax and bank fraud schemes were aided by his deputy Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty to lying to investigators earlier this year and cooperated with prosecutors on the case.

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Lavish lifestyle: The government case was that Paul Manafort lied to first the IRS and then to banks to fund spending which included a now notorious $15,000 ostrich jacket. A guilty verdict is a major victory for Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe

Family affair: Paul Manafort emailed his then son-in-law Jeff Yohai – who was married to Manafort’s daughter Jessica – to ask him to tell a bank that the couple lived in the SoHo apartment as a second home when it was actually on AirBnb

Property empire used for fraud: Paul Manafort owned a loft in this SoHo, Manhattan, building (left) which he bought for $2.8 million and this $3 million Brooklyn brownstone (right)  in upscale Carroll Gardens. He lied about the financial status of both as he tried to get loans when his ‘cash spigot’ was turned off

Lavish: Michael Regolizio, a landscaper, testified that Manafort paid him around $460,000 from 2010 to 2014 on landscaping and lawn maintenance for his Bridgehampton home. But the money was wired from a foreign bank account which Manafort never declared to the Treasury

Make me treasury secretary: Steve Calk (left) wanted an executive at his bank to ask Manafort for help to get a Trump cabinet position. He had posed with the then candidate before the election but sought to enlist Manafort’s aid after also pushing the executive to give the lobbyist loans. When Manafort emailed Jared Kushner about getting Calk a job, Kushner replied: ‘On it’

Gates testified against Manafort for three days, claiming Manafort directed him to hide millions of dollars in offshore accounts from U.S. tax collectors and to submit false financial information to banks in order to collect fraudulent loans.

‘At Mr. Manafort’s request at different points in the years we didn’t disclose the foreign bank accounts [to accountants],’ said Gates.

‘That was in order to reduce the taxable income on [Paul Manafort’s] tax returns,’ he said.

Gates – who also admitted to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort while carrying out an extramarital affair with a woman in London – faces up to 10 years in prison for obstruction of justice, although he  

Manafort’s defense team countered that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had targeted Manafort in a ‘desperate’ attempt to convict the former Trump aide.

They also claimed that Gates was actually responsible for the tax and bank fraud, but pinned the crimes on Manafort to deflect from the fact he was stealing millions from his boss.

‘The government – so desperate to make a case against Mr. Manafort – made a deal with Rick Gates,’ said Manafort’s attorney Kevin Downing. ‘Mr. Gates was orchestrating a multi-million dollar embezzlement scheme.’ 

New details that emerged during the trial are also likely to increase scrutiny on the Trump administration and raise questions about potential influence peddling.

Prosecutors revealed that Manafort asked Trump officials to give an administration job and other political perks to the CEO of a bank where he was trying to get a $16 million loan.

Manafort emailed Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner to recommend that Trump appoint Stephen Calk, the head of Federal Savings Bank, as secretary of the army.

The November 30, 2016 email – which was sent shortly after Manafort received the first part of his loan from the bank – was submitted as evidence in the case.

‘Calk was an active supporter of the campaign since April. HE served on the National Economic Policy Committee for Trump campaign and has made over 40 television interviews during the course of the General Election,’ wrote Manafort. ‘His background is strong on defense issues, management and finance. His preference is Secretary of the Army.’

Kushner wrote back to Manafort: ‘On it!’

After the election, Manafort also emailed Gates – who was working on Trump’s inauguration committee at the time – to ask him to get Calk and his son an invitation to the presidential inauguration.

Gates admitted in his testimony that during this time it was ‘possible’ he also embezzled money from the Trump inauguration committee – raising additional questions about the committee’s finances. 



Pleaded guilty to making false statements in December 2017. Awaiting sentence

Flynn was President Trump’s former National Security Advisor and Robert Mueller’s most senior scalp to date. He previously served when he was a three star general as President Obama’s director of the Defense Intelligence Agency but was fired. 

He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his conversations with a Russian ambassador in December 2016. He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.


Pleaded guilty to eight counts including fraud and two campaign finance violations in August 2018. Awaiting sentence

Cohen was Trump’s longtime personal attorney, starting working for him and the Trump Organization in 2007. He is the longest-serving member of Trump’s inner circle to be implicated by Mueller. Cohen professed unswerving devotion to Trump – and organized payments to silence two women who alleged they had sex with the-then candidate: porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.He admitted that payments to both women were felony campaign finance violations – and admitted that he acted at the ‘direction’ of ‘Candidate-1’: Donald Trump.

He also admitted tax fraud by lying about his income from loans he made, money from  taxi medallions he owned, and other sources of income, at a cost to the Treasury of $1.3 million.


Found guilty of eight charges of bank and tax fraud in August 2018. Awaiting sentence and second trial

Manafort worked for Trump’s campaign from March 2016 and chaired it from June to August 2016, overseeing Trump being adopted as Republican candidate at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He is the most senior campaign official to be implicated by Mueller. Manafort was one of Washington D.C.’s longest-term and most influential lobbyists but in 2015, his money dried up and the next year he turned to Trump for help, offering to be his campaign chairman for free – in the hope of making more money afterwards. But Mueller unwound his previous finances and discovered years of tax and bank fraud as he coined in cash from pro-Russia political parties and oligarchs in Ukraine.

Manafort pleaded not guilty to 18 charges of tax and bank fraud but was convicted of eight counts. The jury was deadlocked on the other 10 charges. A second trial on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent is due in September.  


Pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and making false statements in February 2018. Awaiting sentence

Gates was Manafort’s former deputy at political consulting firm DMP International. He admitted to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government on financial activity, and to lying to investigators about a meeting Manafort had with a member of congress in 2013. As a result of his guilty plea and promise of cooperation, prosecutors vacated charges against Gates on bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, failure to disclose foreign bank accounts, filing false tax returns, helping prepare false tax filings, and falsely amending tax returns.


Pleaded guilty to making false statements in October 2017. Awaiting sentence

Papadopoulos was a member of Donald Trump’s campaign foreign policy advisory committee. He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his contacts with London professor Josef Mifsud and Ivan Timofeev, the director of a Russian government-funded think tank. 

He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.


Pleaded guilty to identity fraud in February 2018. Awaiting sentence

Pinedo is a 28-year-old computer specialist from Santa Paula, California. He admitted to selling bank account numbers to Russian nationals over the internet that he had obtained using stolen identities. 

He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.


Pleaded guilty to making false statements in February 2018. He served a 30-day prison sentence earlier this year and was deported to the Netherlands upon his release.

Van der Zwaan is a Dutch attorney for Skadden Arps who worked on a Ukrainian political analysis report for Paul Manafort in 2012. 

He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about when he last spoke with Rick Gates and Konstantin Kilimnik.


Indicted for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. 

Kilimnik is a former employee of Manafort’s political consulting firm and helped him with lobbying work in Ukraine. He is accused of witness tampering, after he allegedly contacted individuals who had worked with Manafort to remind them that Manafort only performed lobbying work for them outside of the U.S.

He has been linked to  Russian intelligence and is currently thought to be in Russia – effectively beyond the reach of extradition by Mueller’s team.


Twenty-five Russian nationals and three Russian entities have been indicted for conspiracy to defraud the United States. 

Two of these Russian nationals were also indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 11 were indicted for conspiracy to launder money. Fifteen of them were also indicted for identity fraud. 

Vladimir Putin has ridiculed the charges. Russia effectively bars extradition of its nationals. The only prospect Mueller has of bringing any in front of a U.S. jury is if Interpol has their names on an international stop list – which is not made public – and they set foot in a territory which extradites to the U.S. 


In the span of just two years, Paul Manafort has gone from one of Washington’s most sought-after Republican lobbyists to a political pariah – and now his conviction will seal that status forever.

It has been a long and spectacular fall from grace for the 69-year-old former Trump campaign manager, the son of a small-town mayor who went on to work for four U.S. presidents and made his fortune as the Washington mouthpiece for some of the world’s most notorious dictators.

Today Manafort has few defenders in the nation’s capital, after being charged with tax fraud and failing to register as a foreign agent by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Even Manafort’s former boss, President Trump, claimed he never would have hired the former lobbyist if he had known about the allegations.

‘Paul Manafort came into the campaign very late and was with us for a short period of time (he represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole & many others over the years), but we should have been told that Comey and the boys were doing a number on him, and he wouldn’t have been hired!’ wrote Trump in a Twitter post in June.

The power brokers: Paul Manafort, his future business partners Roger Stone and Lee Atwater, were photographed as young Republican operatives. Stone, a Trump confidante and notorious political dirty trickster is now fighting off the Mueller probe himself; Atwater died in 1991, a former RNC chairman with a reputation for dirty campaigns. All three cashed in on their political work by lobbying those they got elected

Manafort, the grandson of an Italian immigrant, was raised in a staunch Republican home in New Britain, Connecticut. 

When he was 16, his father Paul John Manafort Sr. was elected mayor of New Britain and served for three terms. 

In 1981, Manafort Sr. was indicted – but later acquitted – on perjury charges in a sweeping city corruption and bribery scandal that also ensnared the police and fire chiefs.

After Catholic parochial schools and graduating from Georgetown University Law School, Manafort went on to work as an advisor for Republican Presidents Gerald Ford. 

He served as an advisor to Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole’s presidential campaign.

But he – and his business partners – worked out how to turn political advising into a gusher of cash: by lobbying the very politicians they had helped elect.

He co-founded a prominent lobbying firm with ex-Nixon aide Roger Stone, and other partners, which shopped their access to top Republicans to U.S. businesses, state and city governments, and anyone who would pay.

That came to embrace the wider world too; the Manafort lobbying roster included brutal regimes willing to pay high fees for his services – including Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos and Zaire military leader Mobutu Sese Seko.

Betrayed: Kathleen Manafort stood by her husband despite his family finding proof of his mistress on Instagram; she attended every minute of his trial

Manafort went on to found his own political consulting firm in 2005, bringing on his former intern Rick Gates as his trusted deputy.

He also continued to take on controversial clients. In 2010, Manafort helped elect Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, head of Ukraine’s Putin-allied Party of Regions.

The victory paid off – between 2010 and 2014, federal investigators said Manafort’s firm earned ‘a cash spigot’: $60 million in fees from the Party of Regions’ political patrons.

According to prosecutors, Manafort stashed the funds away in a series of offshore bank accounts and shell companies, and failed to disclose the income in his tax returns. In total, they claim he dodged taxes on $15 million.

But after Yanukovych was voted out of power by Ukraine’s parliament in 2014, Manafort’s fortunes suddenly changed. He stopped getting payments from Yanukovych’s wealthy oligarch supporters, and started to have trouble paying his bills.

This is when prosecutors claim Manafort started applying for loans using phony financial information. In total, they said he scammed banks out of $20 million.

Manafort’s alleged crimes were uncovered during the course of a special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller, who has been investigating potential Russian interference in the 2016 election and collusion with the Trump campaign.

In addition to the tax and bank fraud trial in Alexandria, Virginia, Manafort also faces additional counts of failing to register as a foreign agent for his Ukraine work. That trial is set to take place in Washington, D.C.

Even before the charges were filed against him, Manafort’s personal life had been unravelling, according to years of hacked text messages between his daughters Andrea, 32, and Jessica, 36, that were posted online.

According to the messages, Manafort’s family had caught him having an affair with a woman who was around the same age as his daughters, renting a pricy house for her in the Hamptons and paying her credit card bill.

They discovered the affair after seeing the woman’s posts boasting about her expensive travel and dinners on Instagram. 

Manafort, who was undergoing an emotional breakdown according to the messages, committed himself to a psychiatric clinic in Arizona in 2015. 

Texts: Manafort’s daughters Jessica (left, with now ex-husband Jeff Yohai) and Andrea (right with husband Christopher Shand) exchanged text messages which were hacked revealing his affairs and calling him a psychopath. 

Fruits of lobbying: This is the condo overlooking the Potomac where the FBI raided Manafort on orders from Mueller. He bought it for $2.75 million, part of a property empire worth conservatively $15 million

After he was released in 2016 – claiming he had ‘new insight’ into himself – he linked up with the Trump campaign and became the candidate’s campaign manager during the crucial months surrounding the Republican National Convention.

His daughter Andrea took a different view of that.She wrote in a leaked text to a friend, who was not named in the leak: ‘Trump probably has more morals than my dad. Which is really just saying something about my dad. My dad is a psycho!!! At least trump let his wives leave him. Plus, Trump has been a good father.’

And she also texted: ‘Trump waited a little too long in my opinion, but I can attest to the fact that he has now hired one of the world’s greatest manipulators. I hope my dad pulls it off. Then I can sell my memoir with all his dirty secrets for a pretty penny.’

Despite the clearly unhappy family, Manafort’s wife Kathleen stood by him in the face of his infidelity.

She also loyally attended each day of his tax fraud trial, always sitting in the row directly behind his defense table.

Since June, Manafort has been incarcerated for alleged witness tampering related to his foreign agent case. He has been serving that time in a county jail in Alexandria which is close to the federal court where his tax and bank fraud trial was held.

In a recent mug shot, the fashion-conscious Manafort sported a jailhouse jumpsuit and shadowy stubble. His brown hair, which he previously dyed, is now tinged with grey.

The former lobbyist, who once spent $18,000 on a python skin jacket, has also been forced to attend his trial without socks – because he reportedly balked at the white ones he is required to wear as an inmate.

The charges against Manafort have even impacted the legacy of his father, a popular three-term mayor in New Britain, Connecticut, from 1965 to 1971. 

This month the city changed a street named after the former mayor from ‘Paul Manafort Drive’ to ‘Paul Manafort Sr. Drive’ in order to distance it from the controversy surrounding Manafort’s trial.

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