Dowd Tried To Divert Funds To Manafort, Gates, Was Stopped By WH Ethics Advisers

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08:  Raj Rajaratnam's attorney John Dowd exits the Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse March 8, 2011 in New York City. It was the first day of Rajaratnam's insider-trading trial where he is facing allegations of pocketing $45 million by illegally trading on insider stock tips. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
Yana Paskova/Getty Images North America

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.

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