CBC News / YouTube Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort...
CBC News / YouTube

The federal district court judge presiding over former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort’s Virginia trial for tax and bank fraud committed while working on behalf of Russia—not to be confused with the federal judge overseeing his trial on similar charges in D.C.—has granted special counsel Bob Mueller’s request for five witnesses to receive immunity. Just a few hours after that Monday ruling, Judge T.S. Ellis revealed the five witnesses’ identities.

We don’t know what they’ll be testifying about or why exactly immunity is necessary—Mueller just said they’d have to invoke the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination otherwise—but we know their names:

  1. James Brennan
  2. Donna Duggan
  3. Conor O’Brien
  4. Cindy Laporta
  5. Dennis Raico

The list’s publication has sent hundreds of reporters scurrying to their keyboards.

It’s James Brennan, not former CIA director John Brennan, for the record, and there’s nothing on either James Brennan or Donna Duggan that suggests an immediate link. Politico’s got a reporter named Connor O’Brien, but that pesky extra “n” gets him off the hook. What about Conor O’Brien of Advisory Board? He lives in D.C. and seems like a major player in the health and pharma realm. Then there’s a CPA named Cindy Laporta based in D.C.; she, like O’Brien, knows her way around an audit. At least one Dennis Raico seems to have met with ignominy around a financial institution, E Mortgage Management, albeit back in 2013.

We’ll all be Googling and Lexis-Nexising for the next few days. It’s anyone’s bet whether the above are actually the named witnesses in question. Which means it’s a rough break for not just the witnesses, but for everyone with a similar name, that the judge put their names out there so soon—though they would eventually have been made public. And it’s not that long now ‘til trial time.

In a ruling following his decision to publish the names of the witnesses granted immunity, Ellis gave Manafort six extra days to prepare, far less than Manafort was hoping (he wanted Ellis to hold off until his D.C. trial concludes) but nonetheless a small victory for the 69-year-old who faces 10 years in jail based on Virginia charges alone.

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