Poor, Naive Paul Manafort Was FRAMED, HE TELLS YA!
HOLY ROCKET DOCKET, BATMAN! Not only did Judge T.S. Ellis impanel a jury in the Manafort trial by 2 p.m. That speed demon sprinted through opening arguments and the first witness before 6 o'clock! These people are not fucking around!
It was lit -- at least by the standards of a tax fraud case anyway. So let's type fast, before the shit hits the fan again this morning.
Prosecutors Open: JUST LOOK AT THIS GREEDY BASTARD
The jurors are about to spend two weeks (or two days, at this rate!) steeped in the minutiae of shell companies, tax returns, and loan applications. But before all that, the prosecution is here to tell them that Paul Manafort is a major dickhead.
It's not just that Eastern European oligarchs paid him $60 million to ratfuck their elections. And it's not that he had huge houses and fancy cars. This man right here had a $15,000 jacket made out of a goddamn ostrich!
WHO THE FUCK DOES HE THINK HE IS WEARING AN OSTRICH? Is he Prince reincarnated? Assistant US Attorney Uzo Asonye thinks fucking not!
Photo credit: The Modist
Defense Open: POOR, HEROIC PAUL MANAFORT, CONNED BY THAT DEMON RICK GATES
Now, before we get to pointing and laughing at Paul Manafort's lawyers, we should stipulate that attorneys work with what they've got. And when what they've got is a wildly unsympathetic client who left a paper trail a mile wide saying HEY I CAN'T CONVERT A PDF, I NEED YOU TO DUMMY UP THESE LOAN DOCS MORE BETTER PLEASE!!! then their best option is to blame his sidekick Rick Gates, who is currently cooperating with the Mueller investigation.
That said .... OMG, LOLOLOLOL!!!! WaPo reports,
[Attorney Thomas] Zehnle sought to humanize Manafort, asking him to stand and saying he was "proud" to represent him.
He said Manafort was a "talented political consultant" and second-generation immigrant and the first in his family to go to college. He has been "at the pinnacle of U.S. politics for forty years," Zehnle said, and a "driving force in the candidacy of multiple U.S. presidents."
For that, he said, "Paul Manafort has rendered a valuable service to our system of government."
At that point Judge T.S. Ellis III interrupted Zehnle as he had Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye, asking, "I take it you plan to offer evidence?"
Shit's getting deep already! And then Zehnle, who has some balls on him, told the jury that Manafort's work in Ukraine to get Putin's buddy Viktor Yanukovych elected was a humanitarian effort to "bring the country closer to Western democracies after decades of Soviet rule."
Zehnle left out the part where Manafort got a fancy law firm to write a "report" saying that it was totally cool for Yanukovych to jail his political opponent and deny her medical care before the Ukrainians overthrew him, seized his palace and private zoo, and forced him to flee to Russia. Probably saving that for closing arguments!
Instead Zehnle concentrated on painting Rick Gates, the guy who needed a GoFundMe to pay his legal fees, as a criminal mastermind who embezzled millions from his boss Paul Manafort. How did Rick Gates persuade poor, naive Pauly to file all those false tax returns, allegedly? All in the fullness of time, Wonkers! Or, maybe, like .... NEVER???
First Witness: TAD DEVINE (YES, THAT TAD DEVINE)
Okay, look. The fact that Bernie Sanders's campaign manager previously helped Paul Manafort get Yanukovych elected is neither here nor there. It's unsavory, sure. BUT POLITICS AIN'T BEANBAG! So let's not ruin Paul Manafort's special day by heading down any conspiracy rabbit holes right now. Yes the temptation is strong when Devine claims he took the job in the belief that "Yanukovych had moved on and lost a lot of the [bad] people with him." But RESIST. Devine's a hired gun, he's good at his job, and unlike Paul Manafort, he appears to pay his goddamn taxes.
(And DO NOT start that Hillary-Bernie shit in the comments, please! WE SEE YOU.)
Yesterday, Devine had a different job. He needed to tell the jurors that Paul Manafort was definitely the senior partner in this relationship, and shut up with that shit about Rick Gates calling the shots! Which is exactly what he did. Tune in later to see if political consultant Daniel Rabin, tomorrow's first witness, confirms that Paul Manafort, Rick Gates's boss, was actually the boss of Rick Gates.
Or if that sounds boring, meet you back here to dish on THE UNNAMED FBI AGENT testifying today on all the shady, shady shit going down in Manaforttown!
It's gonna be a barn-burner!
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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.