A former attorney for President Donald Trump who was on his outside legal team to navigate the choppy waters of the Russia investigation tried to use money in the White House legal defense fund to help pay the legal bills of former Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that John Dowd lobbied some of Trump's White House associates to send some of the money from the legal fund — which was initially set up to help West Wing and Trump campaign staffers pay legal bills they were facing as part of the Russia investigation — to Manafort and Gates.
Dowd even emailed several of Trump's associates on Feb. 22 to say that Manafort and Gates needed money right away, and he pledged to donate $25,000 of his own money to help pay their bills. Gates pleaded guilty the next day and Dowd did not go through with the donation after his colleagues said it could signal that the White House was trying to interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
"Upon the advice I received, I did not make that contribution," Dowd told the Journal. "I care about a lot of people. I was offended as a citizen and a lawyer."
The Journal claimed that Gates owed more than $200,000 in legal bills when he pleaded guilty.
Manafort served as chairman of the Trump campaign for a brief time in 2016 and Gates was his deputy. Both were indicted for financial and lobbying crimes in October 2017. Manafort was found guilty on eight counts in his first trial last month, and he has reportedly struck a plea deal for his second trial.
Dowd resigned from Trump's legal team in March.
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