- The Washington Times
Monday, July 23, 2018

Five potential witnesses against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort were identified in court documents filed Monday in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.

The witnesses are Dennis Raico, Cindy Laporta, Conor O’Brien, Donna Duggan and James Brennan. All five are said to work at financial institutions that have been linked to Mr. Manafort.

The names were disclosed in an eventful day in the case, which also saw U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis III delay Mr. Manafort’s criminal trial for bank and tax fraud until July 31. Initially, the trial was scheduled to start Wednesday.

Mr. Raico is a senior vice president at Federal Savings Bank, a Chicago-based financial institution. NBC News reported in February that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team was probing whether Mr. Manafort had promised Stephen Calk, president of Federal Savings Bank, a job in the Trump administration in exchange for $16 million in home loans.

Mr. Manafort had received three separate loans from Federal Savings Bank for homes in New York City, Alexandria and the Hamptons, according to the NBC News report.

A spokeswoman for Federal Savings Bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Two of the witnesses — Ms. LaPorta and Mr. O’Brien — have ties to Kositzka Wicks and Co., an Alexandria-based accounting firm that has handled Mr. Manafort’s taxes since 2012. An email chain entered into evidence earlier this year includes Ms. LaPorta as among those discussing a question Mr. Manafort raised about his international income. Mr. O’Brien is included in a second email chain discussing Davis Manafort Partners,a business Mr. Manafort started in 2005 to engage in political consulting in both the U.S. and Ukraine.

A Kositzka spokesman said in an email to The Washington Times that it would be “inappropriate” to comment while the legal case is proceeding.

“We will have and will continue to cooperate fully with the prosecution including current and former employees of the firm who may be called as witnesses of fact to testify to certain facts the prosecution may feel are pertinent to the case against the defendant,” the spokesman wrote.

Mr. Brennan and Mr. Raico discussed “moving forward” on Mr. Manafort’s Brooklyn property in a December 2016 email, according to the indictment. However, little else is known about him.

Ms. Duggan’s name turns up in another email conversation about insuring one of Mr. Manafort’s properties, the indictment said.

None of the five has been charged with a crime. All of the individuals agreed to immunity in exchange for prosecution, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have anything to hide, said Stephen Saltzburg, former associate independent counsel in the Iran-Contra investigation.

“I don’t draw any inference that they are involved in criminal activity,” said Mr. Saltzburg, who now teaches law at George Washington University. “Given the sweep of the indictment, anyone who was involved in any way or activity with Manafort would good reason to claim their privilege.”

Attorneys for the government had fought to keep the witnesses’ names under wraps until Mr. Manafort’s trial. In a filing last week, prosecutors said the witnesses must remain confidential because they are not charged with a crime and would be subject to “undue harassment” if their identities were revealed.

Judge Ellis denied the request in a one-page order.

However, not all of the witnesses may testify, Mr. Saltzburg said.

“You may or may not want to use them all as the trial proceeds,” he said. “Once the trial starts, it is unlikely the judge is going to want to be dealing with requests for immunity. It is possible none of these people testify, but it is hard to know because we don’t know how they are going to put on their case.”

One notable name missing from the witness list is Tony Podesta, founder of the Podesta Group and brother of former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Last week, Fox News host Tucker Carlson cited “two sources” whom he did not name as saying that Mr. Podesta had been granted immunity in exchange for his testimony.

On Monday, Mr. Carlson said he was referring to Mr. Manafort’s September criminal trial in the District of Columbia on charges of making false statements and failing to register as a foreign agent.

“Our sources maintain that Tony Podesta has been offered immunity to testify in Paul Manafort’s criminal trial in D.C. regarding criminal FARA violations. The witness list released today surrounds Manafort’s VA trial which mainly involves tax violations,” Mr. Carlson said in a tweet.

Mr. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him in Virginia and Washington. He is incarcerated in an Alexandria jail after prosecutors accused him of tampering with potential witnesses.

Judge Ellis agreed to push back the hearing after his attorneys argued they needed more time to review more than 120,000 pages of documents they say the government released to them over the past month. Those documents include images taken from electronic devices belonging to Rick Gates, a former business partner of Mr. Manafort, who also was indicted. Gates pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the prosecution. He is expected to be a key witness against Mr. Manafort.

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