Manafort picks up new defense attorney

- Mei 08, 2018

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has added a new defense attorney to his team.

Jay Nanavati, a former Justice Department tax-crimes prosecutor, filed a formal appearance Tuesday in a Virginia-based case where special counsel Robert Mueller has charged Manafort with tax evasion, bank fraud and failing to report overseas bank accounts.

Nanavati is a founding partner of the Washington office of Kostelanetz & Fink, a New York-based law firm.

The hiring was not a total surprise. Last February, the two attorneys leading Manafort's defense since October, Kevin Downing and Thomas Zehnle, moved into the Washington office of Nanavati's firm but did not formally join the firm. POLITICO reported at the time that Nanavati could be joining the defense team.

Spokespeople for Nanavati and Manafort declined to comment on the development.

Manafort faces a July 10 trial on the indictment brought in Virginia on the tax-related charges. He also faces a scheduled Sept. 17 trial on the first case Mueller filed against him, charging him with money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent in connection with his work for Ukraine.

In the early stages of the Mueller investigation, Manafort was represented by attorney Reg Brown of WilmerHale, but the former Trump campaign chief switched attorneys in advance of his original October 2017 indictment.

Like Nanavati, Downing and Zehnle were both previously tax prosecutors with the Justice Department. Downing and Zehnle detached from the the Miller & Chevalier law firm in order to take on Manafort's defense.

In March, Manafort added another lawyer: RIchard Westling of the Washington and New York based law firm Epstein, Becker & Green. Westling, who is primarily a health care law expert, argued a motion last month in Washington asking that the money laundering charges against Manafort be tossed out.


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