Newsy first hour of Manafort trial: Judge Ellis says no more suit pix, Gates likely to testify and Manafort spent $2.2 million over four years on high end TV and internet installation services at his various homes. Joining @HallieJackson in minutes.
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) August 2, 2018
Manafort, deeply in debt to dangerous Russian oligarch, pays off debt by infiltrating Trump campaign as a foreign agent, and now hopes a pardon can save him from decades in prison so he never has to testify that Trump knew. https://t.co/M93yJnElgg
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) August 2, 2018
The Oval Office Occupation seems to be shaping up its final defense: Trump has decompensated so much since 2016 — ask his old frenemy, Omarosa! — that he can’t be held responsible any longer. The Reagan Defense, sped up for our modern social-media age. Per Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair, ““The Manafort Trial Is Spinning Him into a Frenzy””:
… Sources say Trump is increasingly taking his legal defense into his own hands—very much at his own peril. The Sessions tweet crossed a line into what many interpreted to be outright obstruction of justice. Trump also is arguing that he wants to sit for an interview with Mueller, against his lawyers’ advice, The New York Times reported. This is partly driven by Trump’s frustration with his legal team’s inability to end the Mueller probe. As I reported this week, Trump is angry with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani for giving a series of erratic television interviews that seemed to disclose a previously unknown strategy meeting at Trump Tower that took place days before Don Jr.’s infamous sit-down with a Russian lawyer to get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Trump is also unhappy with White House counsel Don McGahn, who in the past stood in the way of Trump’s effort to fire Mueller…
Inside the White House, West Wing advisers fear that Trump is careening toward disaster with few guardrails. One prominent Republican close to the White House told me Chief of Staff John Kelly made his decision to stay on past his one-year mark, in part, to be present in case Trump makes a calamitous decision. “Kelly knows he’s the last bulwark against insanity in that White House,” the Republican said…
Prosecutors got to the heart of their case against Paul Manafort today, as his bookkeeper said she had no knowledge he stashed money overseas and alleged his income was inflated https://t.co/5WxJDxNhyd
— justin jouvenal (@jjouvenal) August 2, 2018
Paul Manafort’s longtime bookkeeper testified against him Thursday, telling a Virginia jury that his seven-figure lifestyle lasted until about 2015 when the cash ran out, the bills piled up and he and his business partner began trying to fudge numbers to secure loans.
The dry but potentially damaging testimony from the bookkeeper, Heather Washkuhn, appeared to undercut Manafort’s defense against bank and tax charges, which is that his business partner is responsible for any financial misdeeds. But Washkuhn testified that Manafort approved “every penny.”
Washkuhn spent hours on the witness stand, describing account balances, bills received and payments. Her testimony is critical to the case being heard by a six-man, six-woman jury in Alexandria, Va., as Manafort, who was then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign chairman for a period in 2016, is charged with running a years-long scheme to hide millions of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service, and then, when his income dried up, lying to get bank loans so he could continue living the good life.
Washkuhn characterized Manafort as a “very knowledgeable” client. “He was very detail-oriented. He approved every penny of everything we paid,” she said.
That point could prove vital in jury deliberations because Manafort’s lawyers have made clear they aim to place blame on the case’s star witness, former Manafort right-hand man Rick Gates, portraying Gates as a liar and embezzler who is responsible for any financial chicanery the FBI uncovered.
On the witness stand, Washkuhn said she prepared ledgers for Manafort’s finances, which she would eventually hand off to his accountants to file his tax returns. She said she sometimes saw transactions in those accounts from other accounts to which she did not have access.
Critically, Washkuhn testified that she did not have any records of foreign accounts controlled by Manafort and had not been aware of such accounts. Prosecutors have introduced evidence that Manafort used foreign accounts to pay millions of dollars for clothes, cars, real estate and home remodeling…
Prosecutors also said Gates, the key witness in the case, could testify as early as Friday.
Gates pleaded guilty this year to lying to the FBI and conspiring against the United States, and he agreed to cooperate against his former boss and partner in hopes of receiving a lighter sentence.