Monday, 27 January, 2020


Judge raps prosecutors over testimony on Manafort's luxuries

Former Trump campaign manager Manafort arrives for arraignment at U.S. District Court in Washington Judge raps prosecutors over testimony on Manafort's luxuries
Bennie Garza | 02 August, 2018, 06:36

The testimony about spending came as President Trump publicly came to Manafort's defense, tweeting that prosecutors were treating him unfairly and attacking the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III that led to the charges against Manafort.

One of those on-lookers keeping a close eye on the Manafort trial: the president. "It isn't relevant", Ellis said in reaction to a piece of evidence introduced by prosecutors, adding that it was not a crime to be wealthy. Why didn't government tell me that he was under investigation.

Each time a witness was called by the prosecution, government attorneys essentially had them leafing through page after paragraph (after page after paragraph...) of evidence.

At the centre of much of the trial will be another Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, who spent years working for Manafort in Ukraine and is also accused of helping him falsify paperwork used to obtain the bank loans.

The trial was expected to last three weeks.

But it was clear from the outset that the case would not address that question: Prosecutors did not once reference Manafort's work for the Trump campaign nor mention Mueller's broader and ongoing investigation into Russian election interference.

It may not be about Russian Federation, but it will be held in the shadow of the collusion controversy that's long loomed over the White House.

"Judge, this is not an effort to prove Mr. Manafort lived lavishly", Andres said.

But when prosecutors introduced photos of Manafort's high-end condo and expensive suits, Ellis interrupted so as to limit the growing list of evidence jurors would have to consider.

The suggestion in court Wednesday that prosecutors may not ask Gates to testify apparently surprised even Judge T.S. Ellis - who retorted: "This is news to me".

The focus on Manafort's personal dealings, rather than Russian Federation, aren't surprising considering the Special Counsel indictment didn't mention the Kremlin, the 2016 presidential election or collusion a single time.

Rick Gates, Manafort's former business partner who pleaded guilty to making false statements after being indicted by Mueller, was expected to be a star government witness. Previously, he tried to challenge Mueller's prosecutorial authority, a move that included filing a civil lawsuit against the Justice Department.

"Money's coming in fast".

Here are some of the key players in the case against Manafort, 69, a veteran Washington political operative who briefly managed Trump's campaign from May to August 2016.

Asonye said Manafort set up more than 30 bank accounts in overseas countries and funneled millions of dollars into them in order to bankroll an extravagant lifestyle.

The appellate judges said Manafort was rightfully jailed because he had decided "to push the envelope by contributing to an op-ed in a foreign newspaper" while under a gag order, and also had "repeated communications with potential witnesses" for his upcoming trial. Gates pleaded guilty earlier this year and agreed to cooperate with investigators. That trial, set in the District of Columbia, involves allegations that the longtime political consultant acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests and made false statements to the US government. But Butina also appeared to have had a broader mission, The Daily Beast reports, detailing an encounter in which Butina urged legendary USA financial executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg to pour more money into the secretly insolvent Russian bank Investtorgbank, leaving observers "shocked and disturbed" at her audacity.

The remaining 31 individuals charged have either reached plea agreements, including ex-White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, or are Russians seen as unlikely to enter an American courtroom.

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