Mr. Manafort And His $15,000 Ostrich Coat

1531416683549The Justice Department received well-deserved pushback yesterday in the trial of Paul Manafort from U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis who noted that it’s not a crime to be rich in America.   The Justice Department has been trying every possible way of introducing pictures and witnesses detailing Manafort’s “extravagant lifestyle” in the jury trial.  This includes such items as his $15,000 jacket that’s “made from an ostrich.”  On style values alone, many of us would be tempted to convict on the Ostrich jacket but that is hardly what Manafort is charged with. Nevertheless, the government got plenty by using lifestyle witnesses to confirm Manafort’s use of direct wire transfers from his many foreign accounts — a practice that was recalled as exceptionally rare by the witnesses.

As I mentioned in my recent column, Manafort’s tastes and expenses would clearly alienate most jurors.  However, Ellis grew increasingly impatient with the obvious effort of Mueller’s team to use the lifestyle evidence as a wedge with the jury.

It’s not a crime to be wealthy, said U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III. And the pejorative term “oligarchs” and evidence of home renovations aren’t necessarily relevant to the charges in question, he added. At one point, Ellis even called out lawyers from both sides for rolling their eyes.

Ellis repeatedly told prosecutor Greg Andres “Let’s move it along.” Andres insisted that the evidence showed the he lived “lavishly” and was presumably intended to give a motive for his allegedly falsifying loan documents and misrepresenting his income.

One witness, Maximillian Katzman, testified about how Manafort was the only client of his high-end boutique to pay with an international wire transfer. It was more than $900,000 at that one store.

Ellis continued to noted that some evidence merely “shows is that Mr. Manafort had a lavish lifestyle. It isn’t relevant.”

Ellis also barred the use of the term “oligarchs,” as a coded term meant to show Manafort was associating with “despicable people and therefore he’s despicable.”

He added “That’s not the American way.”

330 thoughts on “Mr. Manafort And His $15,000 Ostrich Coat”

  1. The jury should sequestered in all special counsel trials.

    It is clear the president is using Twitter to influence the jurors and the press is playing along by publicizing the tweets.

    1. Juries are admonished to avoid newspapers and media. They are questioned about this issue before selection to the panel. Calm down, Chicken Little, this isn’t the court’s first rodeo.

      1. They sequestered the OJ Simpson jury due to heavy media coverage. The special counsel cases have received equal attention.

        1. Yeah, and kangroos hop like frogs do. It’s not a question of “equal attention.” It’s whether a jury can remain fair despite the media attention. Judge Ellis thinks they can and his is the only opinion that counts.

      1. Paul

        The primary complaint from the right about Mueller is that he is not feeding information, not the other way around. The only one feeding, everyone, whether they like it or not, is Trump, the tweet king.

        1. “(1)The primary complaint from the right about Mueller is that he is not feeding information, not the other way around. (2)The only one feeding, everyone, whether they like it or not, is Trump, the tweet king.”

          Issac, can you prove #1?
          Can you show us where Trump has revealed anything unknown about the Mueller investigation (2)?

          Empty statements are meaningless though to the rabid left they eat up empty statements as if they were filet minon.

          1. Allan

            You might try reading Fox News or even WAPO or even BBC. Routinely the Republicans in Congress are threatening to impeach or at the very least require that Mueller keep them, and the world, up to date on what’s happening behind the closed doors of the investigation. Rightfully so, Mueller is doing his homework first and then releasing info, in the form of indictments, etc. Pay attention. And while you’re paying attention take note that Trump spews/tweets info, mostly lies, on an almost hourly basis. Trump has lied thousands of times along with misinformation, exaggerations, and boasts about it. Trump is denotatively known as a liar. –

            Definition of liar
            : a person who tells lies has a reputation as a liar – Trump is on record saying, “I just make stuff up.” Read a newspaper, ‘Fact Checker’. If what they print is a lie then they would be sued; but they’re not being sued.

            Trump, the known liar, reveals some facts, mostly edited and perverted, along with copious lies, pretty much everything orchestrated to make himself look like the hero in a catastrophe of Obama’s making. Allan, it’s not about every nitpicking detail; it’s about the sheer quantity of what Trump reveals, about himself, about the dupes that support him, about the sick state of affairs in America that allowed this buffoon into the White House.

            1. “You might try reading Fox News or even WAPO or even BBC. Routinely the Republicans in Congress are threatening to impeach or at the very least require that Mueller keep them, and the world, up to date on what’s happening behind the closed doors of the investigation.”

              Note how Issac combines two ideas the former a tottering idea which is not true of any Republicans or perhaps if stretched possibly true of only a couple, and the second idea being one Congress is supposed to do whether they agree with the Mueller investigation or not. It demonstrates a very low-grade type of thinking that leads to meaningless responses. Let’s get back to the questions left unanswered.

              “(1)The primary complaint from the right about Mueller is that he is not feeding information, not the other way around. (2)The only one feeding, everyone, whether they like it or not, is Trump, the tweet king.”

              Issac, can you prove #1?
              Can you show us where Trump has revealed anything unknown about the Mueller investigation (2)?

              Issac, it is disgraceful that an obviously educated person cannot stay on track especially when their degree requires a certain step by step approach to things. Issac, I wonder, how many walk-up buildings did you design without steps or an elevator?

      2. No, Mueller isn’t feeding anything to the press or anyone else. There are no leakers on his team, unlike Trump’s.

        1. There are no leakers on his team, unlike Trump’s.


        2. How do you know?

          Peter Strzok who was removed from his position at the FBI and sent to HR asked and received expanded powers from Mueller including the ability the ability to “declassify” information. That enhances the ability to leak among other things.

          You really should read Strzok’s emails.

          An FYI to you Natacha last quarter’s GDP was 4.1.

          1. Because it takes the economy awhile to produce GDP, you can thank Barak Obama for this statistic. He turned around the worse economy since the Great Depression. Fatso had nothing to do with it.

            1. Don’t make me laugh. His own administration said the American people would have to learn to live with less and more recently he said the jobs would not be coming back.

              Obama did a terrible job. The rapid turnaround should have occurred much earlier and much stronger. It didn’t. Look at how the improved employment petered out until Trump became President. You have been shown these numbers time and time again and never respond.

            2. Because it takes the economy awhile to produce GDP, you can thank Barak Obama for this statistic.

              Why, Natacha? Take me through the steps. What did Barack Obama do that generated 4% annual growth rates a year and a half after he left office?

          2. Allan

            Last quarter’s GDP was 4.1. However, if you turn off Trump and his lies and listen to economists you will understand that this is primarily a blip that is not sustainable, created by advance sales of raw materials, soy beans, steel, aluminum, etc in anticipation of raised costs due to tariffs. In other words, whether intentionally or not, manipulated by a one time event, not an indication of the economy overall. Take a look at where most of the tax cut windfalls went. AT&T stiffed employees, laid off employees, and raised top end salaries and bonuses. Most corporations are buying back stocks which is sometimes a good thing and sometimes a bad thing for the stock but has no discernible positive effect on the average American Jack or Jill. Global corporations buying back their own stock makes for easier borrowing from foreign banks. What will probably be happening is US Global Corps will be investing heavily in other countries using money borrowed from foreign banks Trump is all sizzle and no steak. He is a flash in the pan buffoon. The only question is how long can he keep this dance going. Sooner or later people will settle down to reality and there will be no there, there.

            1. “Last quarter’s GDP was 4.1. However, if you turn off Trump and his lies and listen to economists you will understand that this is primarily a blip that is not sustainable,”

              Nothing is a certainty but if you wish to call Trumps opinions lies then you have to call these alternative opinions lies as well. We don’t know what will happen and certainly, there are certain factors that contributed to that 4.1 GDP. Whatever I think, the GDP overall will be an improvement over Obama. I think we would be doing even better if we had a more responsive Congress.

              I’ve heard your comments in earlier months about our economic progress and it seems you are always making excuses for your earlier opinions.

                1. Hollywood, Motherjones is a spin machine. It can spin numbers to find a discrepancy in almost any portfolio. You apparently have little business training or direct knowledge of the business world. What is in Motherjones that you can discuss? Nothing? That means nothing exists.

                  1. I noticed the “DONATE NOW” message at the bottom of that idiot story.
                    Maybe if enough people donate, Mother Bones can hire a writer who understands stock buybacks.
                    Then again, that would not matter if Mother Bones editorial staff nixed a real story about the purpose and effect of stock buybacks.
                    If anyone really wants to learn about those buybacks, read a financial publication, not the Mother gone Senile Jones.
                    Donate for her custodial care only.

                2. Hollywood, Mother Jones began life as a red-haze publication working the California / ecological / muckraking furrow. It was founded by an economic illiterate (Barbara Ehrenreich). Kevin Drum is a J-School graduate. His skill is writing to space and deadline. His actual knowledge on any subject does not exceed that of an undergraduate writing a term paper. I’d wager he has scruples that a cretin like Matt Taibbi lacks, so there’s that. I can see you getting interested in a subject by reading something in Mother Jones, but it’s imprudent to form anything more than a tentative opinion on that basis. Business, finance, and the economics of business and finance are not their book.

      3. PCS, are Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert et al. “jimmying the press” or “feeding the press?”

        1. They are towing the party line. They feel that they need to impart their political “wisdom” as their duty.
          Colbert was brilliant when his “Colbert Show” parodied a foolish political motormouth.
          Now that Colbert has decided to reveal that he is a genuine ignorant political motomouth, his act has lost its edge and its humor
          At one time, Letterman could actually be very funny.
          When he decided that he was a brillant political pundit instead of a comedian/ talk show host, he ended up his career looking like a complete jackass.

          1. Tom Nash – I don’t follow any topical comedians anymore. I do like some comedy shows, but very few. And when they start to get political, I stop watching them.

  2. Hopefully Judge Ellis made these comments on the evidence in front of the jury which he is permitted to do under the rules. It subtly communicates the unfairness of the evidence to the trier of fact by the sole authority figure in the room. As a fair person, Ellis doesn’t like this pre-textual case and it shows.

    1. How is the evidence unfair?

      If a person likes wearing expensive suits, but reports a modest income to the IRS, it contradicts his claim the income reported was accurate.

      It is not a trial for being wealthy. It is a trial for underreporting income to the IRS to avoid taxes.

      1. We don’t convict people for crimes based on their lifestyle — we don’t even charge them for it. Manafort was wealthy before these crimes happened. Judge Ellis quite properly didn’t let the prosecution get away with class warfare over the presumably less wealthy jurors. If you can find unreported funds, then fine show them on a balance sheet — not in his closet.

      2. “If a person likes wearing expensive suits, but reports a modest income to the IRS, it contradicts his claim the income reported was accurate.”

        Demonstrating that Manafort wore expensive suits doesn’t mean very much if he legitimately earned and paid taxes on enough money to cover those expenses. Using those expensive suits would be playing to the jury’s envy and yours. I think you would find playing to a person’s envy would be despicable in a court proceeding of this nature. Forensic accountants are available to show where the money came from so the judge was totally correct to shut that line of inquiry out of court proceedings.

        1. Alphonse Capone (who Trump brought up yesterday) was hurt by wearing expensive suits.

          It contradicted his claim that the income he reported to the IRS was correct.

          The public conduct and statements of witnesses or defendants is fair game, especially when they flaunt their behavior.

          1. No, an expensive article in your home does not and cannot demonstrate that unless the price of the item exceeds your reported assets and lines of credit.

          2. While we’re at it Marry, lets have some whataboutism. Harry Reid’s spent his entire adult life as a public employee bar nine years as a small practice lawyer in Las Vegas, which was at that time a 3d tier city (like Akron or Toledo). How’d he come by a net worth of $6.7 million? Did the Democratic Party donors on the staff of the Department of Justice ever care?

          3. “Alphonse Capone (who Trump brought up yesterday) was hurt by wearing expensive suits.

            It contradicted his claim that the income he reported to the IRS was correct.”

            Al Capone was wearing expensive suits and living an expensive lifestyle for years and nothing happened to him. They needed proof of an illegal flow of money. I believe Manafort likely had plenty of legal money to cover the expenses we are talking about so it should not be an issue. The case is made by proving the money was illegal then showing that he spent it.

        2. Forensic accountants are available to show where the money came from so the judge was totally correct to shut that line of inquiry out of court proceedings.

          Bingo. Tell us what his income was for any period of time within the statute of limitations, tell us what he claimed on his tax returns, and tell us what he claimed on the loan applications. The testimony from the vendors (and supporting documentation) can tell us that Manafort and Gates had the use of the off-shore accounts for personal expenditures. (AFAIK, none of the counts allege embezzlement, so the prosecution is trying to demonstrate that the accounts are personal in nature even though they were opened in the name of LLCs.

          1. DSS, you seem to be following this closer than I probably because I think it is too much of a waste of time. I believe he will be found innocent, not because he is, rather because if they thought they could get him they would have done so years ago. If he is found guilty then I will follow the case because the appeal will be of more interest.

            One doesn’t generally get a jail term for income tax evasion based on what a person spends. It is based on what they failed to disclose as income. Incorrect writeoffs generally lead to a fine. As you indicate they may be trying him on the wrong charge. Then again it might be that they feel they have a better case with another charge but that might only lead to a fine. They may have chosen this charge because it leads to the longest jail term which can be used as leverage against Trump. I think their guns are aimed at Trump, not Manafort.

            1. No, I’m not following it. I just scanned the original indictment, which has 32 counts which were whittled down to 18 counts pre-trial. It’s all about their tax returns, loan applications, and wire transfers. If I understand correctly, with few exceptions, the statute of limitations for federal offenses is five years. For some reason, the bill of particulars lists wire transfers as early as 2008 and 26 off-shore accounts which were not drawn on between February 2013 and the date the indictment was issued. Andrew McCarthy said they included conspiracy charges as a work around in order to be able to try Manafort and Gates for conduct which occurred prior to March 2013; I’m not sure if that assessment pertains to the DC charges or the Alexandria charges or both.

              The amount of money they were supposedly moving around from exotic locations was certainly weird and I wouldn’t blame the Tax Division or the IRS for looking long, hard, and cross-eyed at it. FWER, these agencies did nothing with it. This sort of activity by Manafort and Gates seems to have petered out in 2013. There aren’t many wire transfers listed with dates of 2014 or 2015 attached to them and none at all with later dates.

              1. Excellent, DSS. I didn’t look at the indictment and now I don’t have to. The only thing that seems interesting is the conspiracy charges. I’d like a better explanation of them if they exist so I will wait and see though even there I don’t think the gun is aimed at Manafort. Mueller is out to get the President and is using Manafort’s future as bait.

                Let’s assume that Mueller wins and Manafort goes to jail forever. What Mueller will have proven is that Manafort is a lying bast-rd, a cheat and a whole host of other things. Mueller has won and uses Manafort as a bullet against Trump. Who is going to trust “a lying bast-rd, a cheat and a whole host of other things”? Mueller needs tangible proof and if Manafort had the proof in a bullet it would have been fired long ago.

                1. Generally if they think he underreported his income on his returns they would do a financial analysis that proves that he spent more than he appeared to have. The statute for fraud on filed tax returns is 7 years.

                  1. That is what forensic accountants do but it is difficult to do with a person of great wealth where all the money is not necessarily kept in the US.

                  2. FFS

                    You are misinformed. The statute of limitations for most Title 26 tax crimes, including tax evasion, is six years.

    2. It’s not “unfair” to prosecute someone who launders money and lies on their tax returns. The Judge apparently didn’t like the harping on his shows of ostentatious wealth. That’s a far cry from saying the case is a pretext for anything. But, then again, you are a Fox Disciple.

      1. Again, the wire transfers in question petered out in 2013. There are hardly any referenced from 2014 and 2015 and none at all from 2016 and 2017. Five years worth of wire transfers from the beginning of 2008 to the end of 2012 are listed in full, but under ordinary circumstances prosecution for these transactions would be time barred. The bill lists 33 offshore accounts, but only 7 were accessed during the period after February 2013 and five of the seven were accessed only by Gates. You want to explain why these charges were not brought five years ago?

        1. Fox thinks everyone owes explanations for everything that makes tRump look bad. You haven’t even tried to deny that he cheated on his taxes and laundered money. How about Manafort’s ties with Ukrainians? How about not registering as a lobbyist for a foreign country? Manafort believes he’ll get a pardon, which he’s likely been promised, and because he has the goods on Trump, they’ve convinced him not to cut a deal because they’ll take care of him. Doesn’t that bother you? Do you want Putin’s puppet in the White House? Do you want the truth of how Trump conspired with Russians to cheat his way into the White House to be concealed? If so, why? Do you really want crooks like Manafort to go free? If so, why? What if the Democrats up the ante to the Russians–would it be OK for Russians to help Democrats cheat to win, or are you so myopic that you don’t get what’s going on here?

            1. We are all waiting for Natacha to answer the questions and the questions raised by the charges against Manafort. All she can answer is that you listen to Fox News, but the charges are based on Mueller’s findings, not Fox News.

              1. Why do you keep engaging with her? She believes what she wants to believe because for some reason her unfettered hatred for the results of the last election has her in its grip and won’t let go. She won’t change her mind. Pray for her soul. That’s the best and only thing to do at this point.

                1. Foxtrot, I would rather discuss things with logical people but on the left, we have Natashas and Peter Shills. Why shouldn’t I add to the blog some of the accomplishments of President Trump?

            1. Waiting for the diversionary ad hominem attacks on both me and Fox News.

      2. Natacha:
        The pre-text, as you know, was that prosecution of Manafort was declined on these very same charges in 2010 (by none other than G-Man Rod Rosenstein) and as Judge Ellis noted, reinstated to get Manafort to turn against Trump.
        Judge Ellis: “You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud …. “You really care about getting information Mr. Manafort can give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump and lead to his prosecution or impeachment.” (WaPo, 5/4/2018)

        Do you think playing dumb helps your cause?

        1. “Do you think playing dumb helps your cause?”

          Mespo don’t you think it is possible Natacha is not playing dumb?

            1. mespo – maybe she is a “bottle blonde” which would explain everything.

        2. Do you think playing dumb helps your cause?

          The semantic content of what Natacha says is incidental, just a vector for transmitting the contents of her emotional life.

    3. As I saidbefore, Ellis thinks the prosecution is going to win, therefore to eliminate appellate issues he is deciding all close calls in favor of Manafort. Then, when he loses (as he will) he has nothing to bitch about.

      1. Hollywood:
        Well that would be prejudging the case which is unethical. It would also make Judge Ellis a Swami and he’s neither.

  3. One of the things that turned the jury against Alphonse Capone was his habit of wearing expensive suits to his trial. This contradicted his claim that his reported income to the IRS was legit.

    Trump mentioning him was probably a bad choice under any circumstances, but was particularly unwise on a day in which the prosecution argued that Manafort’s expensive habits do not balance with the numbers he’s been reporting to the IRS.

  4. This is reminiscent of the Tyco/ Kozlowski trial. Good to see the judge not buy into the “smoke and mirrors” tactics of the prosecution.

    1. Good get deb. It certainly is right out the government’s playbook to vilify the defendant. In that case, like so many others, it worked.

      1. Yeah, Mespo, I just love to pick up Manafort’s share of the tax burden, don’t you? And he puts his tax savings to good use, too, as the evidence is proving.

        1. If Manifort’s tax returns are in good order, he is paying his share of the tax burden.

          1. Natacha seems to believe that a person is guilty until proven innocent. And if they weren’t guilty, they wouldn’t have been charged in the first place. Or maybe that’s just her belief for people she is ideologically opposed to.

            1. And if they weren’t guilty, they wouldn’t have been charged in the first place.

              That reminds me of something my father told me as a sure-fire way to get out of jury duty. I’m not sure it would work; regardless, he may have been a bit cynical after the jury convicted of bank robbery. 🙂 PS. He was guilty.

          2. The point you keep missing is that he lied when he signed his tax returns under oath. That’s what tax fraud/evasion is all about. That’s probably why tRump won’t release his tax returns.

            1. Trump has been audited many times by the IRS. He has also been audited by cities. What you want has already been done and failed to take him down because he hasn’t broken the law.

            2. and nobody ever makes a mistake since they are so serious about the false return theoretical possibility

              everybody who makes a mistake on a return can be hit with not only a fase return charge but also a money laundering charge

              there is a big problem with these laws which are so ambiguous

              read ten felonies a day by silverglate

            1. “Guess what? They are not in good order. Fraudulent.”

              Hollywood, big mouths have nothing to say when they are asked for proof. What is fraudulent?

        2. “I just love to pick up Manafort’s share of the tax burden, don’t you? ”

          Natacha is drooling with envy.

          1. What’s interesting about Natacha (and, in a more attenuated way, Jill) is what a narrow emotional range they display. Indignation, Irritation, anger, outrage, and fury. The other thing that’s interesting is how everything is a function of their feelz. You get multiparagraph rants about things marginally relevant to the discussion at hand or you get retorts about Sean Hannity. (I’m not sure I’ve seen an hour’s worth of Hannity or Hannity & Combes since the program went on the air, but I’m told repeatedly I must be cribbing from them).

            1. They think everyone is cribbing from Hannity or someone similar but with time these ideas whether coming from Hannity or not have substantially been realized. Hannity has picked up on some things like the Reverand Wright and kept them alive. For that, I give him kudos. He is no longer a “Republican” but he certainly is a strong Trump supporter.

          2. Not to mention her envy of Melania.
            I think she secretly has a crush on Trump, and overcompensates here by concealing it with over-the-top, crazy comments.

            1. Tom, an intriguing question. Yes, Natacha has a crush on Trump and she certainly can’t compete with Melania. That would make her very envious and crazy. A good explanation of Natacha’s underlying psyche if true.

        3. Natasha:

          I bet Manafort pays and has paid more in taxes than you and I have made over a lifetime, so I’ll bet he’d rather pay our tax bills.

          1. Mespo,…
            One of the legal experts😒😞 here has informed us, with specificity and in numerous comments, how the Manafort trial will turn out.
            Do you make specific predictions on the outcomes of trials?😦
            Or as a lawyer, do you know better than that?😎😉

  5. Anyone remember congressman Charlie Rangel and his tax problems while in office? Let’s see what happened to him, Oh that’s right nothing. He was told on the floor of congress your a bad boy Charlie. Then there was Rev Al what happened there, they say he was cooperating with the IRS to pay the money back.
    Maybe they will claim the Ostrich was really Russian. So I guess this is how millions of tax payers dollars are being wasted on Russian “collusion” the crime that never was. Meanwhile the wicked witch goes untouched and the dumocrat socialist try to take over the nation.

    1. AFAICT, the Department of Justice doesn’t prosecute Democratic members of Congress unless they commit fairly crude offenses (manifest in such ways as having a meat freezer full of greenbacks).

    2. Zambini: here’s a clue: that young Democrat in New York who calls herself a “socialist” is being used as a wedge, including right now, by Russian hackers. Democrats are not socialists. She is an outlier. You are being manipulated.

      1. What does she advocate that’s out of place in federal Democratic politics?

        1. TS to Dance,…
          “You are being manipulated”.
          She may be one of Putin’s agents, groomed to make Democrats look bad.
          And that manipulation is so diabolically clever 😦 that you don’t even realize that this 28 year old candidate is actually
          an agent of the Kremlin.

        1. Sanders had a successful tour as Mayor of Burlington and has been a seminal figure in Burlington politics. You can’t take that away from him.

          1. What’s this dingbat ever done?

          2. How does she differ from a standard-issue Democrat? The only thing I can think of is that she’s hostile to Israel, which isn’t the mode among politicians of either party. (It is the mode in Britain, somewhat worse in the Labour Party than among the Tories).

          1. This dingbat, if you wish to call her that, was born into a privileged environment with a minority name. She has a natural look and appeal. Her knowledge base appears to be small and she has sucked up all the leftist positions of giving away other people’s money. I would say she is further to the left than most Democrats want to admit and she has influenced the party to move leftward. It has been reported that Obama snubbed her. Was that because Obama didn’t agree with her positions or merely the fact that Obama is a politician and realizes such a restricted position will hurt Democrats in the next election cycle? I personally believe the latter.

            Her base so happens to be in her district and she might not have done as well elsewhere.

            1. This dingbat, if you wish to call her that, was born into a privileged environment with a minority name. S

              There’s no indication she’s had any privileges to speak of. She’s a child of the professional-managerial class. Her father is an architect. Median annual cash salary for architects in New York is currently about $82,000. I’d wager about $90,000 Downstate. Part of her upbringing was spent in the Bronx and part in the exurban section of Westchester County. My aunt had 55 good years living in that end of Westchester. Her husband was a technician for Con Ed. Two of her grandchildren live there. Her grandson works for a company that does contracting work for local welfare departments.

              Miss Ocasio went to a private research university and doesn’t seemed to have learned much of use there. Attending such an institution is atypical (about 8% of higher education enrollments are to be found at such places), but not indicative of privilege in most cases. She’d have been better off at one of the SUNY schools, of course.

              1. “There’s no indication she’s had any privileges to speak of. ”

                Everything you say following the above indicates privilege as far as I am concerned. I think we are privileged if we are born in this country, able to work and have a modicum of discretionary income. My wife who isn’t American born kisses the ground everytime we return from abroad. What she had to endure was horrendous. In Ocasio’s case she was brought up by an educated family reasonably well off and lived in a pretty good area.

                1. Everything you say following the above indicates privilege as far as I am concerned.

                  OK, you say it’s spinach.

                  If you define ‘privilege’ so broadly that it incorporates the entire salaried class (or, in your case, define it so broadly as to include the entire native-born population), it’s not a property worth referring to; you used it as an accusation.

                  1. DDS – All IT companies pay salaries, some very handsome, and hire a lot of green card holders.

                  2. No, DSS. Her father alone likely earned more than most and was educated. I think coming from a functional family that is educated gives a couple of legs up. I’ve seen reports that she lived a bit higher than you mention though I am not interested enough to check out the data.

                    “you used it as an accusation.”

                    I don’t think I did. I think you may have taken it that way, but her “privilege” IMO helped to create an attractive package. I don’t find that an accusation. I find that a reality.

                    The latter case all those born in the US is how my wife describes privilege because though well brought up she and her family have faced the worst. To me, anyone born upper middle class in a functional family can generally be considered privileged.

                    I’m not sure why you are making a big thing over an opinion but that is your privilege.

                    1. Because you’re misusing the term and mischaracterizing her. And being pretty pig-headed about it too. She isn’t one of the Kennedy claque. She isn’t Thatcher Longstreth, either (who wasn’t wealthy but had social connections up the wazoo). She isn’t a legacy pol. She grew up as part of the broad middle class. By the way, cash compensation for pharmacists in New York exceeds that of architects by about 20%. Your idea of ‘privilege’ is the dude at Walgreen’s.

                    2. DSS, I don’t know why you are getting your curlers so heated up. If there is something you would like to say about Ocasio, say it already.

                      I look at privilege differently than you and I look at the package differently than you. That is it. You want to bring pigs into the discussion but their oinking isn’t going to add very much to our conversation. I think you would be better off rethinking what has been said and you can do so at a Chinese barbeque where the pigs are no longer making a racket.

                      I value education (not schooling) and upbringing more than I do money or scummy politics. If you wish to say she didn’t have the advantages of the offspring of a prominent politician I’ll accept that.

            2. She has a natural look and appeal.

              No. Her neck is all tendons and ligaments and her teeth are too big.

              1. You are looking at her as one of the opposite sex. Her package is pretty good for general consumption of the ideas she espouses. A natural look is not the look of a model.

                1. Her package stinks. The woman is a bundle of sentiments who doesn’t know much about public policy and hasn’t thought much through. She got a degree in an academic subject but got no vocational training then or later. She hasn’t known what to do with herself through the course of her adult life, so she’s unmarried and childless and has had a series of dead-end jobs.

                  Sanders in 1981 was a mess of a man. But he’d gone to school and knew something about how the municipal government worked, and, in fact, had a clearer idea than the Democratic Party hacks who’d run Burlington ‘ere he came to town.

                  1. Despite her favorable demographics, if her package wasn’t good she would have lost the nomination. Her package and far left appearance scare the Democrats because she actually says things that narrow the Democratic appeal.

                  2. Bernie’s under rated. here is a lone voice on the left who has acknowledged the obvious fact that unskilled native workers are endangered by illegal immigration

                    “Sanders opposed comprehensive immigration reform in 2007 on the grounds that it would expand the number of guest workers in the United States. It included a measure that would allow 200,000 guest workers to stay in the country for two years on temporary visas. The bill was widely supported by immigrant rights groups and would have put the undocumented on a path to citizenship.

                    “If poverty is increasing and if wages are going down, I don’t know why we need millions of people to be coming into this country as guest workers who will work for lower wages than American workers and drive waged down even lower than they are now,” Sanders said in a television interview in June 2007.” — Time magazine excerpt

        1. D. Harrel,..
          – I unraveled and exposed the conspiracy in a comment above.

  6. It speaks to the character of the accused and can be relevant to any crimes committed. This is not unusual. If Manafort lived a lifestyle beyond his legal means and circumvented the laws and taxes in order to maintain that lifestyle then that speaks to motive. If moving money around and committing crimes by not paying taxes or whatever was part of paying for this lifestyle, then that is relevant. The prosecutor will embellish and rub it in. The defense will claim that the founding fathers are behind Manafort’s rights to be uber wealthy. And the judge will limit the theatre.

    1. “A lifestyle beyond his LEGAL means”.
      When I look up the word Pinwheel will I find definition: Issac.

      1. You’re not even a good bushwhacker. The sentence makes perfect sense. Legal means, or means obtained legally. When a person legally makes X but spends X+??? then that invites questions as to how the extra was obtained. Too early in the morning for you I suppose. Typically, in a jury trial of this sort, bits and pieces are arranged by the prosecutors to construct the whole. Some pieces are more illustrative of a crime-such as factual proof of not paying taxes-and some pieces combine with others to support the overall argument.

        1. “When a person legally makes X but spends X+??? then that invites questions as to how the extra was obtained.”

          The expensive lifestyle is not what needs to be proven. The crime is not paying taxes. Your claim only invites scrutiny by authorities, not conviction and it certainly isn’t direct evidence. There are many ways of having an expensive lifestyle without paying for them and some of those ways might even be illegal, but they have to charge and convict him of a specific crime.

  7. The indictment is all about Manafort’s tax returns, Gates’ tax returns, their loan applications, and their offshore accounts. The vast bulk of the wire transfers in the bill occurred prior to March of 2013. Having the special counsel prosecute this case (after the U.S. Attorney, the Tax Division, and the Criminal Division let it slide for years) makes no sense.

    1. Manafort got under Muler’s skin when he did not succumb to the bullying tactics that worked on Flynn. Muler is acting like a street cop teaching a punk a lesson for mouthing off. The Manafort chapter of this investigation will be black eye on Muler legacy. Muler treatment of Manafort will not age well.

      1. ” Muler is acting like a street cop teaching a punk a lesson for mouthing off.”

        Our friends here on this blog would be supporting riots by ANTIFA or BLM if that happened to a minority but unlike Charles Rangel, he is not a minority and he is rich.

        1. Speaking of rodeo clowns, wonder what happened to that poor sucker who wore an Obama mask in a Missouri rodeo stunt?

          1. Only people who lampoon the Anointed and their mascots get fired.

            1. Not only fired, he was banned from rodeo performances for life. Unreal.

  8. What’s curious about the indictment is that it lists 33 shell companies which they supposedly owned or controlled. They have a list of wire transfers as long as your arm from one or another of these companies. However, only a modest fraction of the transfers occurred after 28 February 2013 and only 7 shell companies were tapped after that date. Five of the seven were tapped by Gates only.

  9. It seems that the prosecution is trying to appeal to the baser emotions of the jurors – convict him based on envy and jealousy rather than the facts and law. I think that’s why the judge intervened, essentially telling the prosecution, ‘Okay, we get it, he’s a rich guy; he doesn’t buy his suits at Sears and can waste money on stupid extravagances if he wants to. Now move along.’ I agree with the judge’s admonition.

    1. I think it would be legitimate to have a vendor testify that Manafort paid for something with a wire transfer from a particular account to demonstrate Manafort controlled the contents of the account. One thing that puzzles me is that 31 of the 33 accounts they list were not used by Manafort in the five years preceding the indictment.

    1. I. Bob,…
      – I don’t know if you followed the two trials of the Bundy family.
      I happen to know the Burns, Oregon area and pass right through Burns and the Mulhuer Wildlife Refuge fairly often.
      I’ve been in the area of the Bundy ranch in Nevada, but less frequently.
      That’s why I had probably had an extra incentive to follow these cases.
      The Bundy’s ranch is c. 80-90 miles north of Las Vegas, and I-15 North continues on to Salt Lake City.
      The Bundy Ranch is in a very sparsely populated desert area.
      Going into the Oregon trial (about the take -over and occupation of the Federal Buildings in the Wildlife Refuge), the case seemed very strong.
      Yet the Bundys were acquitted.
      The seperate Nevada trial was about the armed standoff between the Bundys, the Bundys’ militia-type supporters from various parts of the U.S., VS. armed Federal Marshalls attempting to seize the Bundys’ cattle for unpaid grazing fees.
      That case appeared to be strong as well, yet the judge declared a mistrial, and the Bundys walked again.
      I’ve seen enough “unexpected outcones” in trials avoid speculating on the ultimate outcome.
      But if Manafort somehow escapes conviction on the major charges, I don’t think that will prevent the Mueller team from trying to nail others.

  10. Tax evasion?! Celebrities wouldn’t possibly think of committing such a heinous crime with mountains of cash in their banks … would they?

    Michael Sorrentino: According to federal prosecutors, the brothers filed fake tax returns and claimed luxury cars and clothing purchases as business expenditures.

    Wesley Snipes: Snipes was found guilty on three counts of failing to file taxes on income, totaling $17 million in back taxes plus penalties and interest.

    Earl Simmons Rapper DMX: Simmons avoided taxes by creating bank accounts in others’ names, eschewing personal bank accounts, and covering expenses with cash.

    1. IRS – aren’t there like a ton of federal employees that either are either late in filing their returns or owe back taxes?

    2. They’re taking down all my favorite entertainers. Especially The Situation!

    3. snipes was a fool and got duped into believing some sov’rin citizen bs’er

  11. I am a poor working class person, I always have been. Now because I worked myself into an early grave from all of the 100 plus hour work weeks in my life just trying to financially take care of my family I was physically forced to retire at 56, I will be 62 next week, Lord willing and my Doctors have told me I most likely won’t see Christmas, I really don’t have a problem with my reality. I have always liked seeing people do well in life, get new things, new cars, homes excreta. I don’t have any problem with a person who is lucky enough to be very wealthy as long as they earned it legally or even if they inherited it. But if you got there by screwing over people, being a crook, then I do have a problem with those folks. I personally don’t care if Mr. Manafort is worth billions of dollars, as long as he got there honestly, if he didn’t then I have no problem with him spending the rest of his life in a 4 x 8 cell.

    1. you sound like a nice person and i wish you well. i hope you see christmas and enjoy it

      I also hope manafort gets acquitted

      1. he was ahead of the curve on gay frogs and human animal chimeras, anyways

        1. Alex Jones is a joke and anyone who takes him seriously is either demented or profoundly stupid.

          1. I know Wasbill99, I think I can kinda understand your pain. You seem to hate Jones’ Infowars because his leading News Site showed you, likely a pre opt tyranny that’s into bestiality & became so Phked up in the head but I think you refuse to except your fate. Well I think,go suck off a Fat Lizard down in Florida if you continue to refuse to except your life’s reality. LOL:)

            1. Oxy, no preposterous threats this time you mutton headed moron?
              To take Infowars seriously is to announce to the world that you’re a first class cretin.

  12. If his foreign accounts are registered with the irs, he did nothing wrong. By wiring money, you leave a trail. They make it sound like it is illegal to wire money, when it is just the way the rest of the world outside of America makes payments.

    1. Riesling – That’s quite a big if since he’s being charged with defrauding the government (not paying taxes). The retailers have testified as a matter of fact that no one else in the world has been making payments in that manner.

      1. ” The retailers have testified as a matter of fact that no one else in the world has been making payments in that manner.”

        Enigma, what does this have to do with anything? Are you now convicting people because they are outliers?

      2. The retailers have testified as a matter of fact that no one else in the world has been making payments in that manner.

        The retailers can only testify to what their own customers do.

          1. Enigma, you back peddled again. Previously you said that wasn’t true, that you back peddled. I told you it was a waste of time for me to copy your past episodes of back peddling since I knew you would do it again and again and you have.

      3. Taxes are paid on interest earned, not on the balance. I and everyone else in Europe pay by wire transfer everyday for the most mundane things. If the jury doesn’t know that, they are being misled. That is the big if.

        1. Riesling you are totally right and Enigma totally wrong. In the past, I wired money from the US abroad. Small minds make big things out little nothings.

        2. the government pulls this stunt when they prosecute people who wire a lot from US to asia too. which is about the only way you can send money there fast short of traditional methods that are off the books and therefore even more “suspect” even though not per se illegal. remittances are big business but normies from on them, since they don’t use them. government stooges know that.

          read that money laundering statute and it can stand on the most vague of predicates

    2. Riesling – Friday I had dinner at a Mexican cafe in the middle of a small mall. Part of the mall contains a wire transfer office that was doing a good business while we were there. If wire transfers are illegal, every illegal immigrant in the US is a felon.

      1. PC Schulte,..
        – I used a check cashing place years ago, on behalf of a guy I knew who’d recently served a prison term.
        His checks were legit, but at the time he had no acceptable ID and no permanent residence.
        He gave me power of attorney to cash a few checks for him that dribbled in, over a few weeks, after his release.
        The place was usually packed, mostly with Mexicans cashing checks.
        And the clerks were speaking more Spanish than English.
        I walked in one day and the place, normally packed, was almost deserted.
        Then saw two police officers questioning a guy in the corner.
        It looked like a lot of the Mexicans who normally would be in there decided to not go in when they learned that the cops were in there.😊

      2. I don’t understand why they can’t just do that at their local bank??? They don’t have an account? The transfer offices are cheaper?

        1. Reisling,
          An account at a bank would be a cheaper, and probably more convenient way to go for most people.
          But that requires giving information like a Social Security number, photo ID, Mother’s maiden name, etc. that someone here illegally would be reluctant or unable to give.

          1. Reisling..,, PS- I suspect that’s why the place was virtually empty after the cops showed up.
            They were probably there for a forged check or something like that, not an illegal immigrant roundup.
            But i don’t the many of the customers who would normally be there were taking any chances.😊

          2. they dont wire unless you have an account. a lot of immigrants operate cash only. cash is not illegal even if the macroeconomists and government snoops want it to be

    3. that is not just the way the rest of the world makes payments. virtually no rich people I know anywhere pay their bills by wire transfer. it’s bizarre. in my family, among my acquaintances in my life there have been some extremely wealthy persons – AMEX, cash, bank check, courier, but not wire transfer to a tradesman

      1. In Germany it is required to pay tradesmen by wire transfer. You do it at your bank. The money goes to the bank account of the person you owe payment. Then you have proof of payment to a tradesmen and can save some money on your income taxes.

        1. honestly, in Germany nobody buys by credit card or cash? If I go into a grocery store, I have to go to a bank to pay for a kilo of potatoes? and receipts and card payments are legally not proof of payment?

      2. an overseas wire is sometimes called a cable. a cable is not a big deal. but most people have never sent one.

        1. I have been banking for over 60 years. I know what a cable is, what a wire transfer is and the charges a bank makes for them, and the time it takes to set one up.

    4. But if you don’t declare the foreign accounts where the moneny is wired from and thus pay no taxes on the money, you are in deep doo-doo.

  13. I would have liked to of heard JT’s comments on the fact that Richard gates may not be testifying. Just what is actually going on there?

    1. They may not need his testimony for the first trial and may save him for the second. Manafort could always call him as a defense witness if he dares?

      1. Enigma,.,,
        – I don’t know what the defense’s strategy will be.
        But if they are even marginally successful in shifting blame from Manafort to Gates, the prosecution may have to put Gates on the stand.
        I was a witness for a defendant once, and a couple was there as witnesses for the prosecution.
        We together in a large waiting area, not discussing anything about the case during jury selection.
        They had gone up for coffee a couple of times to a gal at a window in the waiting area.
        I went up, asked if I could get a cup, and she asked if I was a witness for the defense or for the prosecution😏
        I told her to forget it, that I’d be back in a few minutes.
        It was a cold, foggy day, I was “primed for” a caffeine fix, so I went down the street and ordered a cup of
        Coffee to go for Defense Witnesses.
        Anyway, what was funny was that the man and wife who were ostensibly prosecution witnesses ended up giving testimony that was very favorable to the defense.
        As a witness, I wasn’t allowed in the court room except to testify, but the defense attorney filled me in on it later; he was laughing his a** off.
        I think he felt almost sorry for the prosecutor, who looked like he was barely out of law school.
        And had the rug pulled right out from under him by the couple who “flipped” on him.
        I never did find out if they made them pay for the free coffee that they got earlier.😃😀
        Anyway, this Manafort trial looks like it’ll be a long one, and there could be a lot of interesting twists and turns.

        1. No, the judge is rushing the case through by limiting evidence and hurrying the counsel. It’ll be over before you know it.

  14. Perhaps more relevant than the ostrich coat. Manafort’s defense according to his opening statement is that Rick Gates did everything and he was unaware. All the witnesses thus far have testified that they never had any dealings with Rick Gates and that he accrued no benefits from any of the lavish transactions.

    1. The prosecution listed 33 accounts but the bill lists only 7 tapped after February 2013. The bill’s contentions identify Gates as the sole beneficiary of five of the seven accounts during the period in question.

    2. i am sure the government has sandpapered the hell out of those witnesses too. all the defense needs is to convince one juror that the case in chief depends on the testimony of a liar.

      don’t be so sure manafort will lose

      1. Mr Kurtz – Truthfully, any case with a hint of politics involved is now subject to juror nullification. If Manafort wins his case, it likely will have little to do with the guilt or innocence but right or left.

  15. I had an ostrich skin wallet and it was beautiful. Finally wore out and I had to replace it. However, it was expensive and long-lasting. It sounds like Mueller is trying to convict Manafort for being rich. Sounds like envy and jealousy to me.

    1. PC Schulte,…
      – Could be that the prosecution felt that their were PETA sympathisers on the jury.
      I visited an ostrich farm once, about 5 miles out of the town I was living in.
      Big, strong, fast animals that can be very dangerous.
      There were all kinds of commercial uses for ostrich meat, feathers, skin, corneas, etc. that I wasn’t aware of.
      This was in the 1990s….not sure how the ostrich venture ultimately worked out for the farming family that branched out into it as a sideline.

      1. Tom Nash – my wife was driving through Mesa on her way to work when an emu dashed across the road. Evidently, this became a chase celebre for the Mesa PD until they finally roped it about 10 blocks away.

        1. PC Schulte,…
          I take it that someone raised emus in the area?
          Looking back at it, the enclosure that the ostriches were in didn’t look like it would contain them if they were determined to get out.
          Maybe if they are raised in captivity from birth they could be more domesticated, more like “homebodies”.

          1. Tom Nash – there are several emu and ostrich ranches here Valley of the Sun. There is a big one on the way to Tucson. They are raised for feathers, food, and pelts. My understanding is that they do not make good pets.

    2. exactly: there is no more surer motivation that excessive lavish greed to commit heinous crime. the more outrageous the lavishness the more it is motivational – the need to display wealth indicates an insecurity that is driving someone to excess – and excessive means to maintain that excess.

      1. true but I still am not clear on what the alleged heinous crime is. a political consultant took money from a foreigner. not illegal in the slightest bit. i guess unless the deep state doesn’t like that foreigner. in which case they can use the ambiguous money laundering statutes to cock up a case against you and throw in the never used FARA act too

        1. it’s not illegal to be paid. it is illegal not to register and report it. a crime to represent a foreign country without registering as a foreign agent. a political consultant to a foreign country is not the issue. he did not consult. he acted as an agent. he wrote, spoke, negotiated, directed, decided in the name of, for the sake of a foreign power without registering and some of what he wrote, spoke, negotiated, decided directly impacted USA military activity, legal military activity in compliance with the legally constituted government. If someone is not clear, than making wild accusations based solely on speculation is not justifiable.

          as for money laundering statutes, when the money is transferred and the purpose is clear and transparent, money laundering states are not vague. hence mr Manafort’s conviction, and plea bargaining.

        2. It is illegal to take money from a foreign power to act on its behalf without registering as a foreign agent: that is a felony. Lobbying for a foreign power without registering is equivalent to being a spy under the law: felony.

          1. Before the Mueller investigation, how many people were prosecuted for violations of FARA?
            And how many of those prosecuted under FARA after May 2017 were not associated with the Trump campaign?

    3. “I had an ostrich skin wallet ”

      I think the feds are knocking on your door.

  16. I’m surprised at the judge’s comment. This is a economic crimes trial. . It’s not unusual to raise the life style of the defendant to explain why he or she engaged in such conduct, It would seem that Manafort continues to receive special treatment!

    1. the need to display one’s wealth excessively indicates a morbid insecurity that would drive someone to excess to maintain that excessive display

    2. “It’s not unusual to raise the life style of the defendant to explain why he or she engaged in such conduct”

      I would think such testimony would be used to link the forensic accountant report to his expenditures. If one can’t demonstrate illegality of the funds being spent then it makes no difference how much Manafort spent.

    3. true that it has a certain relevance but the judge thinks they are belaboring it. the judge has that discretion to admit or restrict evidence and judges do it all the time

  17. I don’t care about his Ostrich Coat. That is totally his decision. I bet people would want to know why I have a truckload of Christmas Cactus and Begonias. I don’t care. My decision. Leave him alone.

      1. The genus name of the Christmas Cactus is Schlumbergera and the species is bridesii.
        Christmas Cactus – Schlumbergera Bridgesii – Description …

        The Christmas Cactus possesses a scientific name which belongs to a genus that has a confusing history – to say the least. The plant currently belongs to the Schlumbergera genus, and has the botanical name of (Schlumbergera bridgesii

        1. isafakir – thanks for the cite. I am not sure I have seen one before and I have seen a lot of cacti in my day. 😉

      2. It’s an epiphytic plant that grows in South America in the rain forest canopy. You see them in stores every year around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Totally a useless Christmas decoration with beautiful flowers that needs to be maintained. But I like them. :).

    1. no. if he is committing crimes to enable himself to make bizarre decisions than those decisions are our business.

    2. As long as you legally obtained the means to indulge your tastes no one cares, except perhaps your next of kin.

      The issue is how Manafort came by his wealth.

      1. No, that’s not the issue at all. The issues at this trial concern whether or not he concealed income from the IRS (in part by using wire transfers from shell company accounts) and whether or not he obtained bank loans by presenting to them false information on his assets and income.

          1. Mr. Kurtz,…
            – It appears that the media is shielding us from hearing news that we should not be seeing.
            I think it was CNN’s Don Lemon who skipped over a story about a year ago because he didn’t feel it was something his viewers should be hearing.
            Also, the media are not especially good at multi-tasking.
            With the number of 24/7 media outlets, and a workforce of reporters which has probably expanded greatly over the past generation or so, it seemed that we might expect better coverage of a range of stories and issues.
            There’s a saying that we’re getting 24 hour coverage of an hour’s news, rather than actual 24 hour coverage.
            So stories like those of the Awan family will probably continue to be placed on the media’s bsck burner, or maybe placed in its cold storage.

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