Manafort switches legal teams as the Feds crank up heat

Manafort will now be represented by Miller & Chevalier, a specialist in international tax cases, after he dropped lawyer Reginald Brown of Washington law firm WilmerHale.

President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has switched legal teams as the Russia investigation heats up. 

Manafort will now be represented by Miller & Chevalier, a specialist in international tax cases, after he dropped lawyer Reginald Brown of Washington law firm WilmerHale.

Brown declined to comment in a text message to The Associated Press.

The move was announced shortly after FBI agents carried out on a dawn raid on Manafort's Alexandria, Virginia, home on July 26. Their warrant sought information including tax documents and banking records.

President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has dropped lawyer Reginald Brown of WilmerHale
President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has dropped lawyer Reginald Brown of WilmerHale

President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, (left) has dropped lawyer Reginald Brown of WilmerHale (right)

He'll now be represented by Miller & Chevalier, a specialist in international tax cases

He'll now be represented by Miller & Chevalier, a specialist in international tax cases

The former campaign chairman is being investigated after he showed up in a mysterious Ukrainian 'black ledger' that showed him as having gotten millions in off-the-books payments, then got let go as campaign chief after reports about his connections to a pro-Moscow Ukrainian political party.  

President Donald Trump alluded to the financial irregularities that have drawn the interest of prosecutors, mentioning that Manafort probably got consulting fees from 'all over the place' while saying 'a lot of other people' probably did the same thing.

But after the raid on Manafort's house, he backed up his former campaign chair as a 'decent' man and called the move 'pretty tough stuff.' 

The president got asked about Manafort after a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence at Trump's golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. 

Trump was asked about the search during a question-and-answer sessions with reporters at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf course. He says he 'thought it was a very strong signal,' adding: 'They do that very seldom. I was surprised to see it.'

President Donald Trump backed up his former campaign chair as a 'decent' man 

President Donald Trump backed up his former campaign chair as a 'decent' man 

GOP nominee Donald Trump, flanked from left by campaign manager Paul Manafort, and daughter Ivanka Trump, checks the podium early Thursday afternoon in preparation for accepting the GOP nomination to be President at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday July 21, 2016

GOP nominee Donald Trump, flanked from left by campaign manager Paul Manafort, and daughter Ivanka Trump, checks the podium early Thursday afternoon in preparation for accepting the GOP nomination to be President at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday July 21, 2016

Trump also tried to minimize his relationship with Manafort, saying he only ran the campaign for 'a very short period of time.'

Manafort has been a subject of a longstanding FBI investigation into his foreign dealings. He has denied any wrongdoing. 

'I thought it was a very, very strong signal, or whatever,' Trump said of the raid. 'I know Mr. Manafort. Haven’t spoken to him for a long time, but I know him,' Trump said – once again soft-pedaling his relations to the man who ran his presidential campaign.

'I thought it was a very – you know, they do that very seldom, so I was surprised to see it. I was very, very surprised to see it,' Trump continued. 

Trump denied any 'collusion' with the Russians, and again pointed the finger at Democrats. 'Russia had nothing to do with me winning,' he said.

'This is an event that never took place.'

As for special counsel Robert Mueller,  Trump said: 'I'm not dismissing anybody I want to get on with the task.'

'I’ve always found Paul Manafort to be a very decent man. He’s like a lot of other people, probably makes consultant fees from all over the place, who knows, I don’t know' 

'I’ve always found Paul Manafort to be a very decent man. He’s like a lot of other people, probably makes consultant fees from all over the place, who knows, I don’t know' 

Then Trump said: 'I’ve always found Paul Manafort to be a very decent man. He’s like a lot of other people, probably makes consultant fees from all over the place, who knows, I don’t know.'

After vouching for him, Trump turned to the raid itself, which came in the early morning hours after Manafort had met with congressional committee staff.

'But I thought it was pretty tough stuff to wake him up, perhaps his family was there. I think that’s pretty tough stuff,' Trump said.

On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that it was Manafort who tipped off authorities to Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer, citing people familiar with the matter. Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and Manafort also attended.

 Trump said he is working with special counsel Robert Mueller, but then said: 'They're investigating things that never happened.'

Trump's comments on the raid were more restrained than his lawyer, John Dowd, who bashed it as a 'gross abuse of the judicial process' done for 'shock value' since Manafort was already cooperating.