Ex-Trump lawyer John Dowd wanted to contribute to the legal fees racked up by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates, but White House ethics officials who wanted to keep an arm’s length between the trials and the President foiled the effort.
According to a Friday Wall Street Journal report, Dowd first tried to divert funds from the White House defense fund, set up specifically for people paying legal fees due to their involvement with the President. As Gates and Manafort were being charged for crimes they committed before President Donald Trump’s campaign, ethics advisers stymied the transaction.
Dowd then reportedly switched gears, and tried to get Trump allies to help him raise $25,000 to give Manafort immediately, but conveyed that both men urgently needed money. Coincidentally, Gates pleaded guilty the next day.
White House advisers reportedly told Dowd that the contribution would create narratives that the White House was seeking to interfere with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe and that the President was connected to the crimes.
One source familiar with the conversations told the Wall Street Journal that Dowd thought the funds would keep the men from flipping on the President by cooperating with prosecutors.
Dowd denied that characterization to the Wall Street Journal, saying: “I care about a lot of people. I was offended as a citizen and a lawyer,” about the treatment of Gates and Manafort.
Both Gates and Manafort have agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.