Quantcast
Connect with us

US prosecutors focus anew on Trump ex-aide Manafort’s lavish spending

Published

on

Prosecutors in the trial of U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort hammered away on Thursday at his lavish spending as they sought to prove fraud charges, while they also confirmed plans to call a key witness to testify.

The prosecution has spent the first 2-1/2 days of the trial attempting to portray Manafort as a tax cheat and a liar who hid much of the $60 million he earned from political work for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine by stashing it in undisclosed overseas accounts.

ADVERTISEMENT

A day after the prosecution raised the possibility that Manafort’s former business partner Rick Gates – expected to be a star government witness – would not be called to testify, Greg Andres, a member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, made clear on Thursday that he would.

“We have every intention of calling him as a witness,” Andres said in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, outside Washington.

Gates pleaded guilty to making false statements after being indicted by Mueller. Defense lawyers have painted Gates as an untrustworthy business partner who embezzled funds from Manafort’s consulting firm.

Manafort’s trial is the first stemming from Mueller’s 14-month investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow, though none of the charges against Manafort involve this issue.

ADVERTISEMENT

Manafort, 69, is charged with tax fraud, bank fraud and failing to report foreign bank accounts. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Manafort routed millions of dollars to the United States by putting it in real estate, and spending it on expensive suits, cars and home renovations, according to prosecution witnesses.

Prosecutors said Manafort evaded taxes through this scheme. Five of the 18 counts he faces relate to filing false tax returns. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

ADVERTISEMENT

On Thursday, the jury heard from Joel Maxwell of a Florida-based company that installs lighting, audio visual equipment and automation systems for homes that did work for Manafort. Maxwell testified that some of the Manafort invoices shown to him from prosecutors appeared to be have been forged.

Michael Regolizio, of a landscaping firm in the Hamptons on New York’s Long Island, also testified that a Manafort invoice was phony, listing an incorrect address and an altered version of his company’s name. Regolizio said he was paid about $450,000 between 2010 and 2014 for work for Manafort, and that the money was paid via a money transfer from Cyprus.

Two witnesses – an executive at an upscale clothier and a retired general contractor – testified on Wednesday that invoices purporting to be bills from their companies to a company tied to Manafort appeared to be fake.

ADVERTISEMENT

It was unclear who created the invoices or how they were used.

‘RESENTMENT AGAINST RICH PEOPLE’
As he did on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis warned prosecutors against focusing too much on Manafort’s lifestyle.

“It kind of engenders some resentment against rich people,” Ellis said, expressing concern about displaying photos exhibiting Manafort’s wealth.

ADVERTISEMENT

Later on Thursday, prosecutors are expected to call to the witness stand accountants and a series of tax preparers in an effort to convince the jury Manafort cheated on his taxes and failed to report foreign bank accounts.

Heather Washkuhn, managing director of the accounting firm Nigro Karlin Segal Feldstein & Bolno, will be one of the witnesses to be called on Thursday, Andres said.

In a court filing on Thursday, Mueller’s team asked for an opportunity to further explain why Manafort’s spending was directly relevant to the charges and would not unfairly prejudice the jurors.

ADVERTISEMENT

In a separate motion, prosecutors also asked the judge to prevent Manafort from raising the issue of an Internal Revenue Service audit, saying any potential civil action was irrelevant to the criminal charges and could confuse or mislead the jury

As part of his guilty plea, Gates acknowledged routinely dealing with accountants in the preparation of Manafort’s tax returns and misleading them with false information, although he said he did so with Manafort’s knowledge.

“It is critical for the government to show that the returns were prepared based on information of which Manafort was personally aware,” said David Axelrod, a former federal prosecutor who is now a partner at Ohio-based law firm Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick and is unaffiliated with the trial.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The government must prove that Manafort was complicit in whatever Gates said or did,” Axelrod said.

Mueller has indicted or secured guilty pleas from 32 people and three companies. Trump has called Mueller’s investigation a witch hunt and on Tuesday called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end it.

Reporting by Nathan Layne in Alexandria, Virginia; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Karen Freifeld; Writing by Warren Strobel; Editing by Will Dunham

ADVERTISEMENT

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

2020 Election

Trump campaign mocked after unveiling new red hats: ‘Do you have arm bands as well?’

Published

on

President Donald Trump's 2016 "Make America Great Again" hats have been replaced with new "Keep America Great" hats.

Trump re-election campaign manager Brad Parscale modeled one of the hats on Twitter.

Here is some of what people were saying:

https://twitter.com/LazarusLeBaron/status/1165430924093165568

Here I made an arm band design for you pic.twitter.com/inTyqVi2wo

— Christopher Goodwin (@LazarusLeBaron) August 25, 2019

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘This will not end well’: Far-right extremism expert warns of Trump’s intensifying authoritarianism

Published

on

An expert on the far-right in America warned of President Donald Trump's "genuinely dangerous levels" of authoritarianism on Saturday.

Author David Neiwert posted a long Twitter thread on the commander-in-chief's "Social Dominance Orientation" -- and warned it will not end well.

Neiwert is the author of the 2017 book Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump.

Here is the thread he posted:

https://twitter.com/DavidNeiwert/status/1165428067138846720

https://twitter.com/DavidNeiwert/status/1165428524808724480

https://twitter.com/DavidNeiwert/status/1165429018486702081

Continue Reading
 

2020 Election

‘The Mooch’ attended Biden fundraiser in the Hamptons — because Trump ‘has lost his mind’

Published

on

Former White House press secretary Anthony Scaramucci attended a fundraiser for former Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday.

CBS News reporter Ben Mitchell posted a photo of Scaramucci at the event, and subsequently interviewed "The Mooch."

Scaramucci said he was still a registered Republican, but added that Trump "has lost his mind."

Spotted at a Biden event in the Hamptons: Fmr. Trump WH Comms Director Anthony @Scaramucci pic.twitter.com/PWVTZ8Qm15

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
HELP US UNCOVER CORRUPTION!
close-link
close-image