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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Five Dollar Feminist

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Yeah, that's definitely a repurposed animatronic Hillary (YouTube)

A whole bunch of protests were held today against the fake "president's" fake "emergency" declaration, with people turning out in cold crappy weather to call attention to the general nastiness of the guy who claims he absolutely had to do that declaration that wasn't necessary. Organizers with said over 250 rallies were planned nationwide. So far, the national State Of Emergency doesn't appear to have caused any of the rallies to be cancelled, despite the very real possibility that terrified Honduran refugees fleeing violence in Central America might suddenly show up and ask for asylum.

Are there still actions taking place in your area? Check at MoveOn!

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Before Manafort pleaded guilty and signed up as a cooperating witness who didn't actually cooperate, we wrote this:

We have always kind of figured that Paul Manafort is the one who knows the whole Trump-Russia conspiracy story. He was the first big fish indicted, and they hit him for A LOT. Also note that just about all the other prosecutions that have come from the Mueller investigation so far have been farmed out by Mueller to different jurisdictions. Manafort, on the other hand, Mueller has kept squarely in his office. There has to be a reason for that.

Perhaps it's because, as this Josh Marshall podcast suggests, Paul Manafort, a foreign agent who worked for Oleg Deripaska, AKA Putin's favorite oligarch, and who got sideways financially with Deripaska, was literally sent into the Trump campaign by the Kremlin to do its dirty work. Perhaps the Steele Dossier is right when it suggests that the entire Trump-Russia election-stealing conspiracy was run by Manafort on the Trump side, and that others like (perhaps!) Michael Cohen only had to take over when Manafort's shit started to stink and the news media started reporting on his weird-ass Russian connections in the summer of 2016.

If it's possible, we are beginning to suspect it may be even worse than that.

On Friday, special counsel Robert Mueller issued his sentencing recommendations for Manafort, after DC district court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled conclusively that the shady motherfucker very intentionally lied and blew up his cooperating agreement. Because Manafort defaulted, Mueller is no longer bound to recommend that Manafort's sentence be reduced, and is free to throw the book right at Manafort's face. HARD.

And that is what Mueller did! To be clear, the sentencing memo is harsh.

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