In a filled to capacity courtroom – I think all of Special Counsel Mueller’s team were present, though not Mueller – Paul Manafort yesterday entered a plea of guilty to two counts before Judge Amy Berman Jackson.
Manafort also entered into a cooperation agreement with the government promising to respond truthfully to all questions from investigators.
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.
Posing nonchalantly, one hand on the lectern, the other in his pocket, Alex van der Zwaan received a sentence of thirty days and $20,000. from judge Amy Berman Jackson. Zwaan, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, is the first person to be sentenced as a result of Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation.
Note that the person depicted in the above sketch is not van der Zwaan’s father, though he was present in the courtroom.
Word got out over the weekend that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation had yielded at least one indictment, and that an arrest and court appearance were imminent, so Monday morning the media descended on the DC federal courthouse.
It wasn’t long before we learned that Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his business partner Rick Gates, were going to appear before magistrate judge Deborah Robinson later that afternoon.
Manafort and Gates appeared to be handcuffed as they entered the courtroom, both with their hands behind their backs, but in fact the cuffs had just been removed before they came in.
Manafort and Gates are due back in court tomorrow, Thursday.