Kirsters Baish| The Reagan appointed judge that is assigned to the Manafort case, Judge T.S. Ellis, has made it clear this week that he is done playing games with Mueller’s team of prosecutors. On Wednesday, Ellis scolded the attorneys after they drew attention to Paul Manafort’s “lavish lifestyle” and expensive suits in court.
It seems like Mueller’s team is up to their same old routine, pointing the finger at Manafort for having owned a coat which cost $15,000 and was made from an ostrich during Tuesday’s opening statement. Ellis was not pleased.
“It isn’t a crime to have money and be profligate with your spending,” Judge Ellis reminded Mueller lawyer, Asonye.
On Wednesday Ellis had some words for the prosecution after they began complaining about his rich lifestyle and the way he paid for his expensive suits, by wire-transferring money… which isn’t illegal.
Rachel Weiner tweeted, “Maximillian Katzman, 29, the manager of a luxury menwear store in New York City, testifies that Paul Manafort spent more than $929,000 on suits between 2010 and 2014. He was the store’s only customer to pay using wire transfers from foreign accounts.”
Maximillian Katzman, 29, the manager of a luxury menwear store in New York City, testifies that Paul Manafort spent more than $929,000 on suits between 2010 and 2014. He was the store's only customer to pay using wire transfers from foreign accounts.
— Rachel Weiner (@rachelweinerwp) August 1, 2018
Judge Ellis was so annoyed at the prosecution for continually bringing up Manafort’s spending during the trial that he actually stopped them mid sentence to say, “Let’s move on. Enough is enough.”
The Washington Post reports:
Ronald Wall tallied for the jury the total amount that Paul Manafort spent on House of Bijan items, including a Limited Edition black titanium Royal Way watch — with crystal, an invoice noted.
Between 2010 and 2012, Wall told the jury that Manafort spent more than $334,000 at the luxury menswear store. He then walked the jury through documents showing that the invoices were paid from Cyprus-based bank accounts held by Global Highway Limited, Yiakora Ventures Limited and Lucicle Consultants.
Beverly Hills’ “House of Bijan” is advertised as “the world’s most expensive store.” The chief financial officer for the store, Ronald Wall, was called to the stand as the prosecutors’ fourth witness this past Wednesday. He testified that Manafort was one of the store’s best clients.
“I knew he was a very good customer,” explained Wall while on the stand.
Mueller’s team didn’t just talk about what Manafort bought and how much he paid, but they zeroed in on how he went about paying for his suits. They made a huge deal about him using wire transfers. Wall’s testimony sounded similar to the previous witness’. He explained that wire transfers were generally not used in their store, but Manafort usually paid this way.
The chief financial officer explained that the House of Bijan was a very exclusive store. The items in the store are only sold inside their store location, and each item is made in Italy.
The Washington Post writes:
Manafort spent nearly $104,000 in 2010, and more than $444,000 in 2013. Added up, the figures show Manafort spent more than $929,000 on luxury menswear during the five-year period, paid for from foreign bank accounts.
Judge T.S. Ellis III continued to show impatience with questions from prosecutors that he believed were intended merely to display Manafort’s lavish lifestyle. For instance, he allowed Katzman to describe Manafort’s annual spending but not to add up the total for jurors.
“Let’s move on. Enough is enough,” Ellis said sternly. “They can add.”
Katzman testified that Manafort’s payments came from accounts under the name Yiakora Ventures Limited and Global Highway Limited, both Cyrpus-based accounts prosecutors will argue were controlled by Manafort.
Judge Ellis denied prosecutor Asonye’s request when he asked to display images of Manafort’s suits to the jury. Ellis explained that it was completely irrelevant to the case, and again scolded the lawyer.
Ellis had another knock on the Mueller team when he ruled that the prosecution cannot “enter an invoice for proposed home renovations.”
“All this document shows is that Mr. Manafort had a lavish lifestyle, he had a nice home with a pool and a gazebo — it’s not relevant,” Judge Ellis explained
Judge Ellis is well aware that the prosecution is trying to get at Trump by ruining Manafort, and he isn’t making it easy for them.
If convicted on all charges, Paul Manafort faces a minimum of 305 years in prison.