President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort is switching out his legal team as the Office of the Special Counsel examines Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and any potential ties to the Trump campaign.
Manfort is leaving WilmerHale which had been speaking on his behalf to investigators. “As of today, WilmerHale no longer represents Mr. Manafort,” said Jason Maloni in a statement. “Mr. Manafort is in the process of retaining his former counsel, Miller & Chevalier, to represent him in the office of special counsel investigation.” Coincidentally, WilmerHale is the firm at which Robert Mueller was employed before accepting his appointment to head the Russia probe.
The move comes a day after revelations surfaced that the FBI conducted an early morning raid of Manafort’s home late in July for documents and other material related to its investigation. “FBI agents executed a search warrant at one of Mr. Manafort’s residences,” a Manfort spokesperson said on Wednesday. “Mr. Manafort has consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquires and did so on this occasion as well.”
Manafort’s sudden switching of his legal team may be a signal on where the investigation is heading, as Mueller appears to be focusing on a money trail. At the same time, it may be a sign that the high priced WilmerHale is beyond Manafort’s budget at this point especially as the investigation seems to be intensifying, surely requiring an every increasing amount of lawyer time.
President Trump on Thursday commented on the raid on his former campaign manager’s house during a freewheeling press conference — his first in some six months.
“I’ve always found Paul Manfort to be a very decent man,” Trump said from his golf club in New Jersey where he is in the midst of a 17 day vacation. “I don’t know, but I though it was pretty tough stuff to wake him up, perhaps his family was there. I think that’s pretty tough stuff.”