Published: Fri, August 10, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Judge backs off comments to prosecutors in ex-Trump aide Manafort's trial

Judge backs off comments to prosecutors in ex-Trump aide Manafort's trial

The trial of Paul Manafort, U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, is expected to shift focus on Thursday from his alleged tax evasion to bank fraud as the prosecution's case heads into its final two days.

Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano expressed his displeasure with the judge presiding over Paul Manafort's tax and bank fraud trial in Virginia by telling him to stop making this about him. Nanavati also suggested that, even though the property was listed for rent on Airbnb for more than a year, it could still be used as a primary residence.

"I'm not happy with this judge", Napolitano said on "The Daily Briefing" on Wednesday. Downing said, according to NBC News.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III has been pushing prosecutors to hurry through their case. That includes longtime Manafort deputy Rick Gates, who testified against his former boss. The prosecutors on Wednesday said Ellis had approved having them sit in, but the judge screamed at the lawyers in front of the jury, '"Don't ever do that again". One prosecutor noted that the judge had granted permission for the agent to attend. But today, Ellis told jurors he went overboard when he erupted on prosecutors for allowing an expert witness to remain in the courtroom during the trial.

And IRS agent Michael Welch said Manafort used his foreign income for purchases that included a yacht, horseback riding, Italian villa rental and cosmetic dentistry.

In their filing, prosecutors attached a transcript showing that in fact Ellis had approved the request a week before. Both sides agreed ahead of time to limit discussion of the campaign so as not to prejudice the jury, though they had agreed to allow testimony about the overlap of a bank loan with Manafort's role in the campaign. The crimes Manafort allegedly committed do not have bearing on that central question, but they were uncovered in the course of the special counsel investigation; this is the first trial resulting from Mueller's probe.

After saying Monday that he committed crimes with Manafort, including concealing offshore accounts to avoid reporting them to the US government at tax time and claiming false income to get loans, Manafort defense attorney Kevin Downing asked the witness, "This jury is just supposed to believe you after all the lies that you've told and the fraud you've committed?"

Laporta admitted on the witness stand last Friday that during a conference call in September 2015, she agreed, on Gates' urging, to alter a tax document for one of Manafort's businesses in order to disguise $900,000 in foreign income as a loan, according to the Associated Press, thus reducing Manafort's tax burden by almost half a million dollars. On Monday, he testified that he helped Manafort file false tax returns and hide his foreign bank accounts.

During cross examination, Manafort's attorneys pointed out Gates' extramarital affairs, including a woman in London who may have had a hand in the financial crimes Gates to which admitted, Politico reported.

Mr Downing forced Gates to admit he had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort by filing bogus personal expenses claims and that he had engaged in an extramarital affair and kept an apartment in London for that objective. He finished his testimony Wednesday, Day 7 of the trial.

"Judges should be patient". His defence team is seeking to pin the blame on Gates, who they say was responsible for day-to-day operations of the business. "I'm trying to change".

Neither man was charged in connection with their Trump campaign work, but the trial has nonetheless been closely watched by a president who insists Manafort was treated shabbily and who continues to fume publicly about Mueller's investigation into potential ties between his associates and the Kremlin.

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