Mueller Says Sidebar Manafort Trial Convo Contained Evidence In 'Ongoing' Probe


T.S. Ellis, the U.S. District Court judge presiding over Paul Manafort's ongoing trial, has offered a mea culpa for his critical outbursts against the case's prosecutors.

Ellis also criticized the prosecution for presenting evidence of Manafort's extravagant lifestyle, and he also snapped at them for having IRS revenue agent Michael Welch attend court proceedings before taking the stand as an expert witness. In a filing to the court, prosecutors said that on the first day of the trial, they had told Ellis that Welch would remain in the courtroom, and he had not objected then. "I was probably wrong in that", said Ellis. "But like any human, and this robe doesn't make me anything other than human, I sometimes make mistakes".

From morning until after 5 pm, four bank employees and a representative from Airbnb outlined how the former Trump campaign chairman allegedly lied to obtain more than $4 million in loans for real estate. The judge said he thought he'd he'd made clear no witnesses were allowed to sit in on the rest of the trial, and after the prosecutors said they'd heard differently, Judge Ellis erupted. The judge said he was focused on moving the trial along quickly - then tore into Mr. Andres.

"Well, they're watery", Ellis shot back.

Thursday's testimony was devoid of some of the drama from the last few days, when Gates was confronted about having embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort and was forced to admit on the witness stand to an extramarital affair.

Ellis and Andres continued to butt heads Wednesday, after Ellis once again reminded the prosecutors they should wrap their case quickly. Calk himself, though, is not expected to be called by prosecutors.

Bank records were put on display during the eighth day of the trial. He is the first person to be tried on charges brought by Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 USA election. He faces a separate trial in Washington in September on charges including conspiracy against the US and money laundering.

Gates testified this week that he and Manafort committed crimes together.

The New York Times even observed that at times it was as if Ellis had "picked up the defense team's argument".

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They have argued Manafort disguised millions in income in offshore accounts, lied to banks and evaded taxes, which allegedly allowed him to purchase a luxurious life.

Five guests paid over $11,000 at one point to stay there, one reservation showed, renting the condo for 21 nights.

Citizens Bank mortgage loan assistant Melinda James testified about her communications with Manafort and Rick Gates, the political consulting titan's longtime deputy, regarding a loan application that contained falsified information to increase Manafort's chances of getting the request approved.

While some of the documents shown in court Wednesday listed Manafort's and Gates' names, others showed how a Cypriot law firm run by "Dr. K", Kypros Chrysostomides, oversaw Manafort's foreign accounts.

At that time, his company had not received any income in 2016, but Laporta testified that Manafort directed her to reflect that he expected to receive $2.4 million in income later that year.

Jurors saw an email from Manafort to his son-in-law, Jeffrey Yohai, in which he advises him that an appraiser is looking to schedule a visit to the property.

The bank employees, in emails with Manafort and others, raised concerns they had about Manafort's available cash in his business, the possibility that another property in NY already backed a loan and that the Soho condo was being rented on Airbnb, James testified. That testimony could be particularly interesting because Manafort took steps to try to get Stephen Calk, the founder and CEO of the bank, a job as Army Secretary in the Trump administration, as well as an invite to the presidential inauguration.

He showed jurors how the Federal Bureau of Investigation had painstakingly traced wire transfers from foreign bank accounts to retailers in the U.S. who sold Manafort expensive goods - including the custom men's clothier Alan Couture, where Manafort bought jackets made of ostrich and python skin that each cost five figures.