Manafort bookkeeper: He approved ‘every penny’ on personal bills
Paul Manafort’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.
“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 Mueller’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 Trump 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 Sessions 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.