Manafort Trial Update: DEAR GOD, JUST LOCK THIS GRIFTY SOB UP ALREADY!
And on the Eighth Day, Wonkette rested. We skipped updates on Day 8 of the Paul Manafort trial, which was about 19 hours straight of accountant-splaining. YOU'RE WELCOME! Prosecutors had all the receipts for every fraudulent loan application that claimed Manafort was raking in the millions, while his business was actually tanking. They showed him claiming to live in his rental properties to qualify for cheaper loans. Hell, they even know he took down the Airbnb listing on his "second home" for a month until the mortgage closed. Very damning, and very boooooring.
The prosecution was supposed to finish presenting evidence of Manafort's many fascinating bank frauds on Friday, but the case hit a bit of a hiccup. Looks like there was an issue with one or more of the jurors. WaPo reports:
As the trial resumed around 9:45 a.m., Judge T.S. Ellis III summoned lawyers for both sides to his bench for a conference that was blanketed by white noise. The jurors were not yet in the courtroom. He then took a short break – about 10 minutes — and returned to the courtroom for another bench conference.
That conference was somewhat lengthier, and the judge summoned the court security officer to join the lawyers. The judge seemed to talk with the court security officer as the lawyers listened.
Ellis then declared another recess, though before he left court, he issued a strange warning to those gathered, "You cannot look and see what's on counsels' tables, without their permission of course." He left to the side of the courtroom where the jurors usually gather, which is different from where he usually exits.
OH, NOES! WHAT IS HAPPENING???
Did Juror Number 7 have ex parte communications with Mr. Google about Paul Manafort's shady, shady shit?
To be clear-jurors aren't supposed to discuss the evidence with less than the full jury, nor before the case conclu… https://t.co/89gmWKabvI— Joyce Alene (@Joyce Alene)1533919734.0
Did Juror Number 3 realize Oh, crap! My idiot brother-in-law used to cut Rick Gates's grass?
Or maybe Juror Number 11 happened to glance over and see Manafort's lawyer Kevin Downing passing a note to his colleague saying, "LOL, glad we got this grifty fucker to pay up front!" Which might explain Judge Ellis's admonition to keep your eyes on your own paper!
Could be any of those! But the judge and attorneys seem to have worked it out satisfactorily by the afternoon, when Dennis Raico of Federal Savings Bank took the stand. Raico is one of the witnesses granted immunity for his testimony about playing matchmaker for his boss Stephen Calk and Trump's campaign manager -- "I came to learn that Mr. Manafort was involved in politics, and I knew Steve was interested in politics."
Calk expected that Manafort would get him a high position in the Trump Administration, variously reported as Secretary of the Army, or Treasury, or HUD. Raico was unable to testify to an explicit quid pro quo, but he passed his boss's resumé along, and then watched the bank green-light $16 million of highly questionable loans.
"He explained to me that he is in the consulting business and naturally the income fluctuates," the email to Raico from his assistant read.
But Raico expressed some skepticism.
"A plus B didn't equal C all the time," Raico testified to the financial information the bank would get from Manafort.
Manafort also told Raico's assistant that more than $200,000 in charges on his American Express was because he lent his "friend" the card.
Later testimony established that the "more than $200,000 in charges on American Express" was for Manafort's box seats at Yankee Stadium. Lucky thing Manafort's work wife Rick Gates was there to say, Hey, Mr. Bank Officer! My boss loaned me his Amex to buy $226,800 of Yankee tix, and Imma pay him back tomorrow. So just disregard that, 'kay?
And who wouldn't want to be able to adjust the terms of his loan AT CLOSING?
"I hadn't seen a loan restructured at the closing table before, and I hadn't seen Steve Calk approve restructuring of a loan," Raico testified.
Was it Manafort's raw, animal magnetism that persuaded Stephen Calk to hand over the cash? We'll find out Monday afternoon, when another witness from FSB is scheduled to testify under grant of immunity.
Calk was appointed an economic adviser to Trump's campaign, but never did get that job at HUD, which requires prior experience performing open-heart surgery and stabbing someone in the belt buckle at a Popeye's establishment. SAD. (He did not get to be secretary of the Army either. WOMP WOMP.)
Friday's hearing ended with an admonition from Judge Ellis to the jury:
Don't look it up on Google or anywhere else. Put it completely out of your mind until Monday; that's what I plan to do.
And speaking of OUT OF YOUR MIND ... we'll keep you posted!
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.