Manafort bookkeeper: He approved ‘every penny’ on personal bills

Manafort bookkeeper: He approved ‘every penny’ on personal bills
© Greg Nash

Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortGiuliani meets with fired Ukrainian prosecutor who pushed Biden, 2016 claims: report Top State Department official tells senators he has not seen evidence of Ukrainian interference Justice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe MORE's former personal bookkeeper Heather Washkuhn on Thursday dismissed claims that Manafort could not be responsible for his own personal spending because it was managed by others, explaining that Manafort approved "every penny" of his personal spending.

Washkuhn testified during Manafort's trial in Virginia that the former Trump campaign chairman inflated his business income by millions to keep his foreign bank accounts a secret from his various personal assistants, The Associated Press reported.

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“I would say he was very knowledgeable. He was very detail-oriented. He approved every penny of everything we paid,” Washkuhn said.

Washkuhn's testimony could be instrumental to attorneys working for Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump MORE's special counsel office as they seek to prove that the former Trump aide laundered millions of dollars through bank accounts based in Cyprus to fund lavish spending habits in the U.S.

The money, they allege, was made working for pro-Russia political parties in Ukraine before Russia's annexation of Crimea. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to 18 charges in Virginia in a trial that began this week, and faces more in Washington, D.C., next month.

If found guilty, the businessman faces up to life in prison. During the trial Thursday, Manafort's attorneys sought to cast his former business associate, Richard Gates, as the primary culprit, while Manafort was less in control, according to the AP.

But Washkuhn told jurors that "mainly Mr. Manafort was the approval source," according to the news service.

Manafort's trial comes amid increased attacks by President TrumpDonald John TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE against the Justice Department and the special counsel's investigation into Russia's election interference and possible collusion between the Kremlin and Trump's campaign.

Trump this week directly called on Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRosenstein, Sessions discussed firing Comey in late 2016 or early 2017: FBI notes Justice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe Iowa GOP lawmaker calls flying of trans flag above Capitol an act of the 'Rainbow Jihad' MORE to shut down Mueller's investigation.

"Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further," Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.

The probe has already returned dozens of indictments and several guilty pleas.