DES MOINES, Iowa (October 15, 2015)—On Wednesday, retired Congressman and presidential contender Ron Paul came to a Des Moines’ federal courthouse to testify for the prosecution against two of his former top campaign staffers, Jesse Benton, who is married to Paul’s granddaughter, and Dimitri Kesari. With force, Paul told jurors that the timing of the indictments against Benton and Kesari were carefully planned in order to pose a threat against his son, United States Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who is currently running for president on the Republican ticket.
Prosecutors announced the indictments against Benton and Kesari just one day before the first Republican debate where Rand was set to take stage. At the time, Benton was heading up a Super PAC (political action committee) working on behalf of Rand Paul’s presidential race. The indictments made headlines across the country.
“I don’t consider that a coincidence,” Paul said. “I consider that more than seeking justice.”
In an opening statement Tuesday, U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor Richard Pilger portrayed Paul as a victim of Benton and Kesari’s plot to keep him in the dark about hidden campaign payments. However, Paul didn’t seem happy about being called on behalf of the prosecution against the two staffers.
“I’m not testifying for the defense,” he said at one point during cross-examination from Kesari’s lawyer. “I’m testifying for the prosecution. And that’s been a heavy burden for my family.”
Last week, almost all charges against Benton were dropped. An additional staffer, John Tate, was also indicted. All charges were dropped against Tate.