Judge T.S. Ellis may be an irascible crank who calls himself "Caesar in my own Rome," but he sure knows how to keep a trial moving! With His Honor shouting "FOCUS SHARPLY" every 10 minutes, Paul Manafort's tax fuckery trial has been galloping along at a clip. Prosecutors are on-track to finish presenting evidence on Friday. Then, God willing and the creek don't rise, the jury will send that sorry sumbitch to jail to await his next trial in September. And we can stop thinking about his ridiculous ostrich jacket and his moronic PDFs and his tacky karaoke system for like two whole weeks. Gonna be sweeeeet!

But for now, let's try to wrap our heads around the argument Manafort's lawyer Kevin Downing started off with yesterday. See, when Paul Manafort was approached by the FBI in 2014, he said, Yes, Mr. Law Man, I did used to have some offshore accounts in Cyprus, but they're closed now. (Technically true, since he'd transferred his accounts to the Grenadines and put them under Konstantin Kilimnik's name.) Henceforth, ergo, propter hoc, Downing argued, it was just A ACCIDENT that he forgot to mention them to the IRS on his tax returns all those times.



The defense attorney pointed to about $3 million in transactions, from 2010 to 2014, that he has suggested represent money Gates embezzled from Manafort. He noted an extramarital affair that Gates admitted to Tuesday. Then he asked: Did Gates recall telling the special counsel's office "that you actually engaged in four extramarital affairs?"

The prosecutors immediately objected, and, after a lengthy bench conference, Downing just asked whether the money embezzled went to fund his SECRET LIFE. Which, Gates agreed, it did. Subtle, dude.

But once Gates finished getting kicked in the nuts by Manafort's lawyers, everything settled down like a normal tax fraud trial. Which is to say, it was BOOOOOOORING. Morgan Magionos, an FBI forensic accountant, walked the jury through two hours of charts and graphs showing how a little Ukrainian hryvnia makes its way from an oligarch's pocket to an account in Cyprus where it becomes a dollar. Then a grifty election fucker summons it via email, and the dollar makes the long journey to America and becomes ... whatever this is.

Seriously, what the hell is this?

Magionos highlighted the discrepancy between the $60 million Manafort was paid for his work in Ukraine and the $30 million he reported on his income tax returns. She was followed on the witness stand by IRS agent Michael Welch, who testified that Manafort failed to report at least $15 million of income, and that's taking at face value all his extremely creative "business expenses."

Welch said he also looked at the income that was never brought into the United States. He said he was "conservative" in what he allowed as possible business expenses — including 132,000 euros to a yacht company, $49,000 for an Italian villa rental, $45,000 for cosmetic dentistry and $19,800 for a riding academy — because he heard "no testimony" explaining their purpose.

But Kevin Downing was ready with a response to that one. And it was RICK GATES IS A LYING THIEVER WITH A WANDERING PEEN!

Under cross-examination, Kevin Downing raised questions about an "embezzlement deduction" Manafort might have been able to take or whether he might have been able to spread out reported income as a way to explain discrepancies. Welch testified those would be possibilities, but at the end of the day, it doesn't change his assessment that Manafort filed false tax returns and failed to report income.

And, Welch said, if one wanted to take an "embezzlement deduction" one would have to report the income to start with to even qualify.

Embezzlement deduction?!?!?!

Done! We are done with this grifty fucker and his bullshit defense. GO TO JAIL, PAUL MANAFORT. GO TO JAIL FOREVER.

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Republicans are devouring each other's carcasses, and we are here for it! Especially when one of those Republicans is King Kris of the Kansas Votefucker Klan ... errr, Clan! It's been a week since Kansans cast their votes in the gubernatorial primary, and the GOP looks to be rolling up its sleeves for a slugfest.

As we type, Kobach leads by 298 votes out of more than 314,000 cast -- a whopping 0.00095 percent, if you round up! The Kansas GOP begged Donald Trump to stay out of the race and leave the field clear for sitting governor Jeff Colyer, who took over when Sam Brownback wandered off to bring Jesus to the Hottentots on behalf of the US government. Safe bet that Colyer would be gearing up for the general election now if President Twitterthumbs hadn't flapped his yap. So thanks for that, Donny!

No, really, THANKS!

Remember the hanging chad debacle in Florida? Now picture it in a landlocked state with more cows than people. It's like fantasy island for Devin Nunes, ALLEGEDLY.

Oh, but we are to kid!

After first insisting he wasn't going to recuse from the counting, Secretary of State Kris Kobach (one and the same!) wrote Colyer a fabulously bitchy letter agreeing to hand off the tabulation to his deputy, Eric Rucker. Colyer had made the shocking suggestion that Kobach delegate responsibility to the Kansas attorney general, rather than his own political appointee, and Kobach was stretched out on the settee with a fit of the vapors at the gross impropriety of it all!

I will not breach the public trust and arbitrarily assign my responsibilities to another office that is not granted such authority by the laws of Kansas.

After several anguished paragraphs, Kobach closed by remonstrating that Colyer was betraying his office by destroying the faith of Kansans in the sacred integrity of their electoral process.

As governor of Kansas, your unrestrained rhetoric has the potential to undermine the public's confidence in the election process. May I suggest that you trust the people of Kansas have made the right decision at the polls and that our election officials will properly determine the result as they do in every election.

Said the guy whose entire adult life has been dedicated to whipping up panic about millions of imaginary illegal alien voters.

So now these two princes can kick the crap out of each other WITH VOTES, specifically, provisional ballots cast by unaffiliated voters under the supervision of poorly trained poll workers. Kansas holds closed primaries, meaning only registered Republicans can vote to select the GOP candidate, BUT an unaffiliated voter can cast a vote by checking a box identifying as a Democrat or a Republican at the polling place. This was news to some poll workers, who mistakenly directed over one thousand unaffiliated voters to use provisional ballots without checking the box indicating party preference. Whoops!

So, will those provisional ballots be counted based on voter intent? Or tossed based on strict interpretation of the statute? And does Kansas law mandate tossing mail-in ballots that arrive without a postmark on Wednesday, since there's no forensic proof that they were mailed before midnight on Tuesday? And how disgusted will the Kansas electorate be when one of these assholes emerges from the melée holding the other one's scalp? And how many millions of dollars are going to be spent on litigating the Republican primary while this nice lady Laura Kelly, the Democratic minority whip of the Kansas Senate, is out campaigning for November?

Even before this debacle, Kobach looked significantly weaker against Kelly than Colyer, with self-funded Libertarian Jeff Orman threatening to throw a wrench in the works. The Wichita Eagle reports on a Remington Research Poll conducted in July:

In a Kelly-Orman-Kobach race, the poll puts Kelly and Kobach effectively in a dead heat — 36 percent for Kelly and 35 percent for Kobach, with Kelly's lead within the margin of error. Orman has 12 percent.

Colyer leads in a three-way race with Kelly and Orman, according to the poll. In that scenario, Colyer receives 38 percent of the vote, while Kelly gets 28 percent and Orman receives 10 percent.

Which is ONE POLL, in a deeply red state, but ... Kobach is a crap candidate who's likely to emerge from this fight with two black eyes and a pissed off base. If there's anyone who can blow this election, it's Kris Kobach.

Keep fighting, Kris! You can do it! (And now we need a shower.)

And YOU need an OPEN THREAD!

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[Kobach letter / Wichita Eagle / Mother Jones / Kansas City Star]

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While most people spent this weekend telling Nazi punks to fuck off, a couple 11-year-olds were in Las Vegas hacking into voting machines. Why? BECAUSE IT'S FUN!

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