A mysterious webpage went up online soliciting donations for Paul Manafort's legal defense fund, and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow is highly suspicious.
The former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump is facing multiple indictments and steep legal bills, and self-described "long-time" friends set up an irrevocable trust to raise money.
"It seems like it could potentially be a prank or a stunt, or it's at least a little strange in part because this website that they launched (Wednesday), this Paul Manafort defense fund, kind of feels like it was cheaply translated from some other language," Maddow said.
She pointed to some awkward turns of phrase and odd spellings of common words, and the MSNBC host reminded viewers that Manafort had worked for shady foreign clients for decades.
"Some of this is probably just inevitably unavoidably awkward," Maddow said. "There is a section of this website that tries to define Paul Manafort's lifetime of service to the United States."
"That may or may not be an effective plea to donors," she added, "but it doesn't quite reflect the spirit of what Paul Manafort is on trial for, which is, among other things, lots of tax evasion and money laundering relating to his time of pro-Russia Party of Regions in Ukraine and its successor, the hardline anti-American, anti-western Opposition Bloc is what Manafort's clients in Ukraine had to rename themselves after their previous leader fled to Russia for Putin's protection to avoid angry mobs in his own streets. This is not somebody for whom it is easy to concoct a tale of all-American patriotic service."
The trust seems designed for maximum anonymity, Maddow said, and ripe for abuse.
"The name they want you to make the payment to is completely generic, Legal Defense Fund Irrevocable Trust," she said. "That turns up in your check register, is everyone going to know what that is? It certainly doesn't mention the name Paul Manafort."
Former national security adviser Mike Flynn, who pleaded guilty in the special counsel probe, has promised not to accept foreign donations for his legal defense -- but Maddow said the indicted campaign chairman had made no such assurances.
"I don't know who set up the do-not-say Paul Manafort legal defense fund irrevocable trust and started soliciting donations for it (Wednesday) with this 'MySpace' website, but it really does appear to be a pretty slapdash effort," Maddow said. "A lot of the idiom in this thing is super weird, and there is no reason to think we will ever have any disclosure as to who set up this little anonymous legal defense fund and who fills it up with money for Paul Manafort's use."
"They do take credit cards," she added. "They take checks, they take money orders. Presumably, you can just drop off some jewelry you want to pawn."