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Manafort Trial, Week One

Former Trump campaign director Paul Manafort’s bank and tax fraud trial got off to a quick start this week in Alexandria’s “rocket docket” federal court. Judge T.S. Ellis, who yesterday quipped that he was a “Caesar in my own Rome” kept things moving along. Jury selection, which many expected to take a couple of days, was completed by early afternoon of the first day followed by opening statements and the first witness.

This first week’s sketches are posted below, more or less in chronological order. The trial’s star witness, Rick Gates, is expected to be called to testify early next week and the government has said it will rest by the end of the week. Keeping my fingers crossed that Gates won’t take the stand till Tuesday as I have jury duty – don’t you know – in Baltimore on Monday.

 

Manafort’s New Threads

Paul Manafort, accustomed to $10,000. House of Bijan suits, appeared instead for yesterday’s pre-trial hearing wearing an Alexandria jail issued prisoner jumpsuit. Looking disheveled, the collar of his green jumpsuit turned inside out, the usually dapper Manafort did not look comfortable. Perhaps that is why he has declined to be present in court today as prospective jurors are summoned to fill out questionnaires.

Judge Ellis granted the defense’s request to delay the start of the trial so that they could have more time to review evidence, but only for a week. The trial is now scheduled to begin next Tuesday, July 31.