Last Monday, the world woke up to the news that Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and Manafort and Trump’s longtime associate Rick Gates had both been formally charged with crimes ranging from conspiracy against the U.S. to money laundering.
That same morning, a third Trump aide was revealed to have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. He’d lied about the timing of a contact with a Russian professor promising dirt on Hillary Clinton; although he said the contact came before he worked for Trump, it came after.
Special Counsel for the Russia investigation Robert Mueller’s case is far from over following this round of criminal charges — just recently, reports surfaced that Mueller has enough evidence to indict former presidential national security adviser Michael Flynn and his son, although those indictments haven’t been officially handed down yet.
The Intercept has now dropped another name of a top Trump ally who may soon be in hot water — Tom Barrack, who is the one who first pressed Trump to hire the now criminally charged Manafort.
The situation with Manafort is that, while working for the Russia-aligned Party of Regions in the Ukraine, he sneaked millions of dollars into the U.S., using a combination of loans, secret accounts, and shell companies to hide the money.
Barrack, as The Intercept notes in a new report, made a personal loan to Manafort of $1.5 million back in 2007. This loan is similar in form to the loans that Manafort used to hide his money and avoid federal scrutiny.
What he would do is buy properties in the U.S. with offshore accounts and then take out large loans with the property as collateral, and the money making up the loans would be “clean, untaxed cash.” Barrack’s large 2007 loan to Manafort was “to help refinance his mortgage for a home in the Hamptons.”
Barrack spokesperson Owen Blicksilver insisted to The Intercept that the loan was legitimate, saying that the loan wasn’t even to Manafort himself, as Barrack told The Washington Post. Rather, according to Blicksilver, the loan was made to Manafort’s wife, and Barrack’s spokesperson added that “whatever tax-avoidance strategy Manafort may have been employing would not have been known” to Barrack.
‘Without opining on the validity of the charges in the indictment, do you really think someone making a personal loan reviews the individual’s tax filings?’
Barrack, as The Intercept explains, has long been close to Trump; he’s in contact with him “regularly.” The publication even notes that “his name has been floated as a possible chief of staff should the president decide to replace John Kelly.”
As for Manafort and Gates, they’ve pleaded not guilty to the charges leveled against them, pledging to fight the allegations.
Their trial is tentatively set for next spring, and both men face years in prison if convicted.
The inquiry into possible Trump team collusion with the Russians in their efforts to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election is ongoing. Trump has continued to maintain his team’s innocence, posting a belligerent message to that effect following Manafort and Gates being indicted.
It’s not as though these tweets represent the first time that Trump has maintained his innocence — he’s tweeted numerous times against the investigation in the past, undercutting the legitimacy of our nation’s justice system in the process.
Watch some of Barrack’s public commentary in favor of Trump below.
Featured Image via Screenshot from the Video.