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Friends of Manafort start legal defense fund to cover legal costs

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort's friends have started a legal defense fund to help pay for the longtime lobbyist's legal bills as he faces multiple criminal charges.

The fund, created by unnamed friends of Manafort, aims to "support the Manafort family as they battle false allegations, government leaks and smear campaigns related to the proceedings brought against him by the Office of Special Counsel," according to an announcement obtained by BuzzFeed News

The announcement reportedly says Manafort is "struggling" to pay legal bills incurred during his court battles against the charges filed against him by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia's efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

Manafort, who Mueller says earned millions of dollars for his lobbying work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, has previously cited an inability to pay his fees due to large amounts of assets being seized by the government

The longtime Republican consultant faces multiple charges including bank fraud, conspiracy against the U.S. and money laundering, all related to his work in Ukraine.

Prosecutors say that Manafort and his associate Richard Gates failed to register as foreign agents.

But the Defense Fund suggests that Manafort is battling the "Deep State," asking for help from "anyone who values civil liberties" to help in the cause.

The Defense Fund says any leftover funds raised from the campaign will go toward the American Civil Liberties Union or the Brain Trauma Foundation, according to the website. 

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