FoxNews -- Paul Manafort is charged with conspiracy against the United States, money laundering, tax fraud, and failure to disclose foreign bank accounts. Rick Gates on Monday, 8-6-18, took the stand against his former business partner, ex-Trump campaign chairman [of a few months in 2016] Paul Manafort, testifying that he and Manafort:
As part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Richard Gates pleaded guilty. Multiple accountancy and bookkeeping witnesses testified that they dealt with Gates in preparing Manafort's financial paperwork. Prosecutors were expected to ask Gates for an inside look at Manafort's books ... More here from NPR
Virginia Judge T. S. Ellis III Blocks Prosecution's Attempts to Use Manafort's Lavish Lifestyle To Convict
8-1-18, FoxNews, Virginia USA -- During Mueller's prosecution opening statement, Federal Judge T.S. Ellis interjected to remind jurors that wealth alone is not criminal, and rebuking a prosecutor in front of the jury for saying that the "evidence will show" Manafort's guilt; judge said, 'You have evidence?' He sent jurors out of the courtroom several times reminding prosecutors that Paul Manafort is not on trial for simply having a "lavish lifestyle."
Mueller's prosecutors have introduced a bevy of exhibits and are in the process of calling several witnesses as part of their effort to paint Manafort as a tax scofflaw who failed to report money spent on luxury items -- then lied to get bank loans when his foreign consulting work dried up.
In a surprising moment, prosecutor Uzo Asonye told Judge Ellis that Manafort's former business partner, Rick Gates who had been considered a potential star witness for the prosecution -- might not be called to the stand after all. The judge sharply told Asonye, "You know who you are going to call. If you are going to call him, then this [debate over a particular exhibit] is a waste of time.”
Mueller team was rebuffed by Ellis when it tried to introduce photos of Manafort’s closets, filled with suits and other high-end articles of clothing. Ellis noted that those photos would eventually become fodder for the media, and called them "unnecessary" for jurors to see. Testimony was given about thousands of dollars spent on clothing and other lavish items paid for by wire transfers from bank in Cyprus. One exhibit dismissed related to Manafort's lavish spending. The judge said, "All this document shows is that Mr. Manafort had a lavish lifestyle. It isn't relevant."
Among his other rebukes, the judge told prosecutors to stop using the word “oligarch” to describe wealthy Ukrainians, whose dealings with Manafort are at the heart of the fraud charges he faces in the northern Virginia federal court. He said the term is a "pejorative" that would risk unfairly prejudicing jurors against Manafort.
Judge Ellis said, "I’m hoping to finish this case much sooner than anyone predicted.” The trial had been expected to last three weeks. Earlier in the day, prosecutors told the judge they thought the government could wrap its case by the end of next week. More here
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