Paul Manafort Will Throw This Hail Mary Pass Right Up His Butt!
What me worry?
How was your weekend, Wonkers? Better than Paul Manafort's, we hope! Friday night, about 10 minutes before the deadline, his lawyers filed a Motion to Suppress evidence gained when the FBI searched a storage locker in Alexandria, Virginia, last May. What kind of evidence? Looks to be the receipts for all his alleged ratfucking and money laundering in Ukraine.
As we mentioned last week, Uncle Pauly seems extra spooked lately at the prospect of additional charges in yet another jurisdiction. Perhaps California? So he's throwing all manner of shit up against the wall and hoping something sticks. If he can just get the judge to toss all the evidence from that storage locker, then maybe he can Fruit of the Poison Tree his way out of this mess! And if you have bottomless money, why not throw some of it at your lawyers on a long shot motion, right?
So Manafort's attorneys are arguing that the search was illegal because:
- AT, the employee who let them in there, was no longer employed by Davis Manafort Partners, Inc. (“DMP”), which the FBI agent knew;
- Only Paul Manafort was an "Authorized Access Person" on the lease for the storage unit; and
- The FBI agent knew he was in the wrong because he only looked at the outside of the boxes on May 26, 2017, returning on the 27th with a warrant and seizing the whole mess.
Which is all very interesting, except:
- AT, the employee who consented to the FBI's original search, was still on Manafort's payroll, just through a different company called Steam Mountan, LLC;
- AT's name was on the lease, and he had a key to the unit; and
- The case Manafort's lawyers cite says more or less the exact opposite of what they're arguing.
So, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!
See, a guy who wears $10,000 suits doesn't do storage lockers, even if they contain 30 years worth of documentation of all the shady shit he's gotten up to. Manafort had AT set up the lease and haul boxes of records back and forth to the dusty old storage unit. It's kind of weird to argue that, "Mr. Manafort appears on the agreement as the only person with authorized access to the storage unit," when the person granting that authorization was AT, the guy whose name was on the lease.
But hey, knock yourself out, Paul!
Manafort's attorneys cite US v. Peyton, in which the defendant's grandmother gave police permission to search the apartment, but not the defendant's personal belongings. The cops opened a closed box belonging to the defendant, found drugs, and used them as evidence. The Peyton Court granted the Motion to Suppress because Grandma couldn't give consent to search her grandson's personal belongings -- if they saw something suspicious, the police needed to come back with a warrant (or get consent from the defendant himself). Just as AT had authority to let the agent in, but couldn't give consent to open up the boxes in that storage locker. Which is why the agent said, "Oh, this box says Ukrainian ratfucking! I should get a warrant to come back and seize this stuff." Because it's the Mueller investigation, not Barney goddamn Fife!
If you are to believe the defense's arguments, the prosecutors are so inept that they got basic legal issues like who can consent to a search, how broad a search warrant can be & how it should be executed wrong. These arguments won't survive the prosecution's response.
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) April 7, 2018
Besides which, AT had already told the FBI agent what was in the storage unit before letting him in, so he probably could have gotten a warrant without searching it anyway. Here, take it from your boyfriend Renato Mariotti.
There's nothing wrong with a Hail Mary pass, of course. But you gotta take your lumps when the ball winds up in the stands and people give you shit about it forever. And Manafort is no Drew Brees. If this motion were a football play, it would look like this.
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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.