After the income from foreign lobbying in Ukraine dried up, Paul Manafort found himself in serious financial trouble. By early 2016, Manafort was falling behind on bills and maxing out a bank credit line, his longtime bookkeeper told jurors on Thursday.
Prosecutor Greg Andres highlighted Manafort's dire financial straits as they turned to the bank fraud portion of their case.
Their argument in a nutshell: Manafort illegally lied to banks to get loans when he was desperate for cash.
The bookkeeper, Heather Washkuhn, described how Manafort's international lobbying company hemorrhaged money in the years after his patrons in Ukraine were driven from power, losing more than $630,000 in 2015 and $1.1 million in 2016.
Without a steady income, Manafort fell behind on his bills, including payments to the bookkeeping company. At one point, Manafort was even at risk of losing his health insurance because he couldn't make the payments, Washkuhn testified.
Manafort's longtime deputy Rick Gates asked Washkuhn in January 2016 if he could draw funds from one of Manafort's credit lines at the Swiss bank UBS. In court Thursday, Washkuhn read from her reply to Gates, where she said the account was "fully drawn."
Another email from Washkuhn to Manafort said $120,000 was "urgently needed for your personal bills." Another series of emails warned him of an upcoming deadline to pay property taxes on one of his homes in New York before penalties kicked in.
The bookkeeper's testimony described Manafort's financial troubles in January 2016. That's one month before he reached out to candidate Donald Trump, offering to run his campaign without getting paid, according to The New York Times. Trump hired Manafort in March 2016 and stayed until August 2016. It's unclear why Manafort offered to work for free at a time when he needed money.
An important note: The jury hasn't heard anything about Manafort's role on the Trump campaign, and his outreach to Trump is not part of the evidence in this case. Manafort's alleged crimes are unrelated to the campaign. Prosecutors previously told the judge that they will only bring up the Trump campaign to talk about an alleged quid pro quo between Manafort and a banker who wanted a campaign job.