August 16, 2018

Paul Manafort, former big-time political consultant to oligarchs and volunteer campaign chairman for President Trump, may not have mounted much of a defense in his federal trial on tax fraud and money laundering charges, but he does apparently have an airtight case for not wearing socks in court.

No, it isn't a lack of petty cash. It's fashion. Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni told CNN — which seriously asked about the socks — that Manafort has limited sartorial options for his trial, including no belt or shoes with shoelaces. That explains the loafers, but Maloni also explained that Manafort only has access to government-issued white socks, and "he doesn't like white socks."

Not only does Manafort have no socks, he "has no swag," says Esquire senior style editor Jonathan Evans. "In case you hadn't heard, white socks are actually kind of a thing right now. Wearing them with loafers is a move that perfectly balances throwback vibes with a bit of tongue-in-cheek stylistic irony. It's pretty cool, to be honest! Which is exactly why I wouldn't expect Manafort to get it." And in case you were curious about Manafort's lack of defense witnesses or evidence, The Late Show has a theory. Peter Weber

August 15, 2018
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On Thursday morning, the jury in Paul Manafort's federal trial will start deliberations.

President Trump's former campaign chairman is facing 18 charges of tax evasion, money laundering, and bank fraud. On Wednesday, the jury heard closing arguments from both sides, with prosecutor Greg Andres saying Manafort "lied to keep more money when he had it, and he lied to get more money when he didn't," and the defense arguing that Manafort was so rich, he didn't need to hide money.

The trial is being held in Alexandria, Virginia, and the jury is comprised of six men and six women. If convicted, Manafort could be sent to prison for the rest of his life. This is the first trial to come out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, although this case is based on Manafort's personal finances. Catherine Garcia

August 14, 2018
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Paul Manafort's lawyers on Tuesday opted not to present a case nor call any witnesses, resting the defense for the former Trump campaign chairman just one day after Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team finished two weeks of prosecution, reports CNN.

Manafort has been charged with tax evasion, money laundering, and bank fraud, among other charges. He is also accused of failing to report millions of dollars he earned while working as a political consultant in Ukraine ahead of joining the Trump campaign. Manafort's former bookkeeper and accountant testified against him, as did his former deputy, Rick Gates, who said Manafort used offshore accounts to hide money.

Manafort did not take the stand. The Washington Post reports that both sides will get two hours to present closing arguments tomorrow, and then the verdict will be in the hands of the jury. Summer Meza

August 13, 2018
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On Monday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors rested their case against President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Manafort has been charged with tax evasion, money laundering, and bank fraud. Manafort is accused of failing to report millions of dollars he earned while working as a political consultant in Ukraine, ahead of joining the Trump campaign. The prosecution's witnesses have included accountants, bank executives, and Manafort's former business partner Rick Gates, who agreed to work with the government and pleaded guilty to reduced charges in February.

Gates testified that Manafort used offshore accounts to hide money, and also admitted to having embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort. The defense is expected to start calling witnesses on Tuesday. Catherine Garcia

August 9, 2018
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The judge overseeing Paul Manafort's trial admitted on Thursday that he was wrong a day earlier when he criticized prosecutors in front of the jury.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis told the jurors he "may have made a mistake" when he berated prosecutors for letting IRS agent Michael Welch sit in the courtroom before he took the stand and testified, adding, "It has nothing to do with your consideration in this case." He also said the robe he wears "doesn't make me anything other than human."

The prosecutors requested on Thursday that Ellis issue a "curative instruction" to the jury, because he had cleared Welch to sit in the court, but Ellis screamed that he had barred all witnesses from observing the trial, barking, "Don't ever do that again." Ellis has been typically hard on the prosecution, mocking one government attorney and saying he saw tears in his eyes and snapping at another for saying "yep" instead of "yes."

Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, is charged with bank and tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. Catherine Garcia

August 7, 2018
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On Tuesday, Rick Gates testified that Paul Manafort recommended President Trump nominate a banker who allegedly loaned him money under false pretenses as secretary of the Army.

Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, is on trial, accused of bank and tax fraud, and Gates, who pleaded guilty in February to lying to the FBI, is now cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Gates testified that Manafort suggested Stephen Calk as Army secretary two weeks after Trump was elected, when Gates was working on the transition team. Manafort and Gates were longtime business associates, and prosecutors showed the jury an email Manafort sent Gates on Nov. 24, 2016, which read, "We need to discuss Steve Calk for Sec of Army."

Two days before Christmas, Manafort sent Gates another email, which included a list of people he wanted to go to Trump's inauguration, including Calk and his son. Prosecutors say that Calk, a retired Army officer, allegedly had his bank, Federal Savings Bank, extend a mortgage to Manafort in 2016 based on fake financials. Calk was named to Trump's Economic Advisory Council in August 2016, but never received a position in his administration. Catherine Garcia

August 7, 2018
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While testifying in the federal trial against Paul Manafort on Tuesday, Rick Gates admitted he had an extramarital affair while in London, but said he couldn't remember if he paid for his apartment using money he embezzled from Manafort.

Manafort is President Trump's former campaign manager, and Gates is his former associate. Manafort is accused of bank and tax fraud, and while testifying on Monday, Gates revealed the pair had 15 foreign bank accounts that were not reported to the federal government, with Manafort directing they not put the accounts on legal documents.

Gates is the prosecution's star witness, and on Tuesday, Manafort's lawyer Kevin Downing brought up "the secret life of Rick Gates," asking him if he had an apartment in London and had an affair while there. "I admitted to a previous relationship," Gates said, and revealed he had the apartment for about two months. The Washington Post reports the affair took place more than 10 years ago.

On Monday, Gates testified that he had doctored expense reports in order to embezzle money from Manafort. Downing asked him Tuesday if he had "a scheme" developed to embezzle, and Gates said no, he "just added numbers to the reports." Gates also said he met with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office 20 times to prepare for the trial, and has "a bad memory." Catherine Garcia

August 7, 2018
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Rick Gates' initial 80 minutes of testimony against his former mentor and boss, Paul Manafort, in federal court on Monday was strictly business. Gates told prosecutors that he had lined his own pockets with "hundreds of thousands" of dollars by submitting fraudulent invoices at Manafort's political consulting firm, said he'd helped hide millions in foreign income in 15 secret bank accounts in Cyprus and other tax havens to lower Manafort's tax bill "at Mr. Manafort's direction," and lied to prosecutors. The key exchange was when federal prosecutor Greg Andres asked Gates, "Did you commit crimes with Mr. Manafort?" and he answered, "Yes."

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis has made it clear that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors are not allowed to dwell on the Ukrainian oligarchs or Russian partners Manafort worked with to earn his reported $60 million in consulting fees. "You don't need to throw mud at these people," Ellis told Andres in one of their heated exchanges Monday, referring to Manafort's foreign clients. "Yet the names of various figures in Moscow's orbit were occasionally unavoidable: Oleg Deripaska, Konstantin Kilimnik, Viktor Yanukovych," reports Vanity Fair's Abigail Tracy. "As much as Ellis sought to keep them out of the courtroom, their lingering presence alluded to further trials to come."

Accountant Cynthia Laporta testified Monday that Manafort got a $10 million loan in 2006 from Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and never apparently paid it back. Gates testified that "Kilimnik, a Russian who prosecutors claim is tied to Russian intelligence, had signatory authority over some of Mr. Manafort's accounts in Cyprus," The New York Times reports. Kilimnik worked for Manafort in Ukraine and met with him in the U.S. at least twice in 2016, once when Manafort was running President Trump's presidential campaign. After the late-summer 2016 trip, Kilimnik reportedly told operatives in Kiev that he'd played a role in stripping an anti-Russia plank from the Republican platform. Peter Weber

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