Day two of President Trump’s onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s federal trial featured details of an early morning raid and admonishments from a fed up judge.
An FBI agent who took part in the raid of Manafort’s Virginia home last year testified Wednesday that investigators knocked several times on the door of the condo before using a key to enter after no one answered.
Special agent Matthew Mikuska told jurors that the FBI found expensively tailored suits and documents related to other luxury items allegedly bought by Manafort, including two silk rugs worth $160,000 paid from offshore accounts.
Manafort is facing bank fraud and tax evasion charges related to his lobbying work on behalf of pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III has cautioned prosecutors to stick to the charges as they unveil reams of evidence of Manafort’s lavish lifestyle.
When prosecutors produced photos of Manafort’s high-end condo and expensive suits, Ellis interrupted so as to limit the growing list of evidence jurors would have to consider.
“All this document shows is that Mr. Manafort had a lavish lifestyle,” Ellis said at one point. “It isn’t relevant.”
Ellis also said he was told that attorneys on both sides had been seen rolling their eyes after leaving the bench or in response to the judge’s rulings.
The lawyers’ facial expressions, Ellis said, appeared to show them thinking “why do we have to put up with this idiot judge?”
The proceedings have clearly caught the attention of the President, who spent the morning tweeting about the trial that has stemmed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
Trump at turns defended hiring Manafort to run his campaign in 2016 and suggested the 69-year-old GOP operative was being treated worse than mobster Al Capone.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the President feels Manafort has been treated unfairly.
“Why didn’t government tell me that he was under investigation,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “These old charges have nothing to do with Collusion — a Hoax!”
Manafort’s defense attorneys are putting blame on Manafort’s business associate Rick Gates, who has pleaded guilty in Mueller’s investigation and is now considered to be the government’s star witness. Gates also worked on the Trump campaign.
But prosecutor Uzo Asonye said Wednesday that Gates may not necessarily appear in the courtroom to testify against his longtime boss.
“He may testify, he may not,” Asonye said of Gates. “We’re trying to shorten the trial.”
This article provided by NewsEdge.