Ron Paul Gives Fiery Testimony in Trial of Two Indicted Top Aides

Mother Jones

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Former GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul took the stand in an Iowa federal courthouse this afternoon in the trial of two of his top aides from his 2012 presidential campaign. The aides have been accused of paying for the endorsement of an Iowa state senator and then trying to cover it up. Paul blasted prosecutors and the media while still testifying that he abhorred the concept of paying for endorsements.

Paul was called as a witness for the prosecution in the trial of Jesse Benton, his 2012 presidential campaign chairman who is also married to Paul’s granddaughter. Another longtime Paul family political operative, Dimitri Kesari, is also on trial. Kesari worked as deputy campaign manager in 2012.

The charges in the case stem from a scheme by Paul’s 2012 campaign to pay then-Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson more than $70,000 to endorse Paul in the days before the Iowa caucuses in late 2011. Four of the charges against Benton were dropped when a judge ruled that prosecutors had improperly handled the indictments. Benton still faces a count of making false statements to prosecutors after he denied any knowledge of the alleged plan when they asked him about it last summer. Kesari faces six charges, including federal conspiracy and campaign finance charges. Prosecutors also say Kesari attempted to convince Sorenson to not tell investigators everything he knew.

During his testimony, Paul switched between appearing almost politically naive—claiming he knew almost nothing of how his campaign paid expenses and telling a long folksy story of his dislike for political endorsements—and exhibiting fiery anger. Paul loudly denounced the prosecution for its case against Benton and the damage it has done to his son Rand’s 2016 presidential campaign.

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Ron Paul Gives Fiery Testimony in Trial of Two Indicted Top Aides

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