The star witness in the Paul Manafort trial is a self-confessed liar and thief — Manfort’s former business partner Robert Gates. Gates says he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort and claims he lied for Manafort for years as he helped him evade taxes. Oh, and Gates falsified loan applications for Mr. Manafort.
We can’t report much about Manafort yet because we have to wait for the defense, but it’s not looking good for him at the moment. It looks like he didn’t pay his taxes and there was some bank fraud involved.
Prosecutors expect to wind up their case at the end of the week. Manafort is facing 305 years in prison.
Gates also admitted Tuesday to an affair ten years ago but said he didn’t use company money for the trysts, according to NBC News and the NY Times. Then it was reported that he admitted during cross he paid for the London apartment with money he embezzled.
Judge Ellis is a no-nonsense judge who just wants the facts laid out without any creative writing by prosecutors. The judge has told prosecutors all that’s relevant is that Manafort was paid and whether he hid the income from the IRS.
There have been some interesting arguments between the judge and the Mueller team. Most of it was after jurors were dismissed.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III took issue with prosecutor Greg Andres over how slowly they were moving with Manafort’s former business partner, Rick Gates. His frustration also included the amount of time they spent going over the relationship between Manafort and rich Ukrainian politicians.
The judge told them to stop using the term ‘oligarch’ because of its implications.
“I don’t know why you keep bringing (up) these people,” Andres fired back. “These people [Ukrainians] are not like any Americans. These people are oligarchs and that means they control a segment of the economy based on the government allowing them to do that. These are not really political contributions. They are self-serving payments with respect to what oligarchs do.”
Oligarch suggests Russians.
Ellis said that even if the Ukrainian politicos “deserve” the characterization, it doesn’t apply to the case against Manafort. “That makes it even clearer to me that it doesn’t have anything to do with the allegations in this case,” Ellis said. “It throws dirt on these people. They may deserve it. I don’t know – and I don’t care.”
“It doesn’t matter whether these are good people, bad people, oligarchs, Mafia. … You don’t need to throw mud at these people,” Ellis said.
Andres said he was entitled to show the jury why Manafort was getting tens of millions of dollars in payments.
“When we try to describe the work, Your Honor stops us and tell us to move on,” he said.
DON’T LOOK DOWN
At one point, Ellis reportedly got annoyed at Andres for not looking at him while talking. “Look at me! Don’t look down,” Ellis said. After Andres told the judge he was looking at a document relevant to the case, an agitated Ellis said, “You looked down as if to say ‘that’s B.S.!’ I’m up here!”
“Don’t look down!” the judge yelled.
Andres was being obnoxious. He keeps doing the eye roll when the judge gets frustrated. He’s not alone, defense lawyers do it too.
“Rein in your facial expressions,” Ellis has admonished.
A TEARY EYED PROSECUTOR
Late Tuesday, Judge Ellis suggested to the prosecutor Greg Andres that he was tearing up. This took place during a discussion out of earshot of the jury and members of the media.
“I understand how frustrated you are,” Ellis said. “In fact, there’s tears in your eyes right now.’’
Andres disputed Ellis’s statement, to which the judge replied, “Well, they’re watery.”
This is Gates second day of testimony. The cross should be interesting.
This judge just wants the facts and nothing but the facts. Prior to the trial he made it clear that he believed this was about getting President Trump in the end.
The judge has chastised both teams.
Gates could face six years in prison but prosecutors won’t object to probation according to the NY Times.
What do you think about all this?