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Robert Namer
Voice Of America
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AUGUST 3, 2018

     Why bring up the fact that Manafort had money? A federal prosecutor highlighted ‘Paul Manafort $15,000 jacket that’s “made from an ostrich” during the trial in Alexandria, Va., of Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman. Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye, a prosecutor working on the case with special counsel Robert Mueller, mentioned the detail in opening statements Tuesday. Manafort faces bank and tax fraud charges. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis pointed out that it’s not a crime to be rich after Asonye indicated that the prosecution will focus in part on Manafort’s “extravagant lifestyle” in the jury trial.

     The allegations include that Manafort failed to pay about $15 million in taxes on more than $60 million the political consultant made from his work for a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party and then obtained fraudulent loans. The money in question was allegedly funneled through 30 bank accounts and shell companies in at least three foreign countries. Asonye added that Manafort signed papers and wrote emails — making it clear that he was the one who controlled the 30 accounts — and used some of the money for “purely personal” expenses, including the ostrich coat.

     The opening statement in defense of Manafort largely blamed his business partner Rick Gates, who is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation. Manafort has a notorious penchant for costly things. The indictment against Manafort detailed evidence of expensive purchases, including a $21,000 Bijan black titanium wristwatch, multiple $10,000 custom-made suits, and oriental rugs valued at a total of $934,000.  Big deal - what about the Clinton's big expenditures?

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