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Paul Manafort's trial—or trials—is finally drawing to a close. His first trial kicked off on July 31, 2018. The man was indicted on a number of charges, including conspiracy against the United States, money laundering, and obstruction of justice, among others. Special Counsel Robert Mueller discovered evidence of Manafort's wrongdoing during his investigation into the presidential campaign of Trump. From a tense jury selection to repeated back and forth confrontations between Manafort's lawyer, Thomas Zehnle, and Judge T. S. Ellis III, the trial captured the nation's attention. The trial at the federal court in Alexandria resulted in guilty verdicts for eight charges, prompting Manafort to take a plea before his second trial, scheduled to take place in D.C. There likely won't be many juicy tidbits from those proceedings, but what we already know is scintillating, and begs the question as to whether or not the United States of America is shifting from a democracy to a plutocracy.
Rick Gates: The Scapegoat of Paul Manafort's Trial
Rick Gates was once Paul Manafort's business partner. In the tangled mess of the indictment of the decade, it turns out that Gates swindled money from Paul Manafort, who was busy stealing money from clients, banks, and assorted other individuals. Gates struck a plea deal that made him a star witness for the prosecution. Manafort and Gates were two of the first names to pop up during the Mueller investigation. Throughout the first of two trials of Paul Manafort, his attorneys consistently went after Gates in an effort to prove that he was the mastermind behind every bit of collusion and fraudulent behavior. While it's true that Gates smuggled money, that doesn't change the fact that Manafort's dirty deeds are all his own.
Manafort's Lavish Personal Style
Prosecutors had no problems proving that the defendant spent a lot of money. Over the course of Paul Manafort's trial, it was revealed that the man bought truly extravagant items. For example, he spent $15,000 on a coat—but not just any coat. Manafort bought himself an ostrich coat. It appears to be nothing more than a dated leather jacket, unfortunately, which probably wasn't the look Manafort was after when he bought it.
The Biggest Fashion Budget You've Ever Seen
Evidence presented during Paul Manafort's trial revealed an affinity for spending money on fashion items. Of the massive amounts of money Manafort pulled in by fair means and foul, he spent over a million dollars of it on clothes. Over the course of five years, Manafort got his threads from Alan Couture and other designer fashion houses, such as House of Bijan in Beverly Hills, which is widely considered the most expensive and extravagant men's clothing store in the entire world.
Outlandish Real Estate Purchases
It seems that Paul Manafort also binged on real estate. The trial proved that he purchased seven homes, either for himself or family members. For example, he bought his daughter a house in Arlington for around $1.9 million—but evidently, he paid for it with cash. With cash. In addition to that, Manafort had real estate holdings and homes scattered around both Virginia and New York, all of which totaled around $6.4 million. He spent additional, exorbitant amounts on landscaping and extensive renovations. In fact, he spent over $7 million more on home renovations.
Four Luxury Cars
The money that Paul Manafort embezzled and laundered went toward his love of cars, as well. An interesting piece of evidence that reared its head at Paul Manafort's trial was his apparent car collection. Information collected during the investigation showed that Manafort either bought or leased several Land Rovers, along with a Mercedes.
A Few Little Treats
That seems like enough money wasted, but Manafort didn't stop there. Instead, he splurged on even more lavish items with his ill-gotten funds. He bought season tickets for the New York Yankees. He gifted himself with a watch, purchased at House of Bijan. Unsurprisingly, he didn't buy a Timex, but rather a Royal Way watch. The limited edition timepiece cost him $21,000. Manafort also enjoyed shopping at J&J Oriental Rug Gallery, where he spent a million dollars on various merchandise.
Paul Manafort's trial revealed more about his work as a lobbyist in Russia and Ukraine. The extent of his relationships with Ukraine came to the forefront, as well. Once upon a time, Manafort was a political consultant. He worked in Ukraine, helping Viktor Yanukovych with his election campaigns. Yanukovych was part of the Party of Regions, a pro-Russian party. Yanukovych ultimately fled Ukraine and relocated to Russia. Paul Manafort continued working for him. He lobbied for the group that emerged from the Party of Regions, called the Opposition Bloc. This work is one reason why Manafort had to register as a foreign agent, although his job with President Donald Trump still leads many to suspect that he's a political operative, as well.
A Fixer with a Secret
During his work in Ukraine, Manafort worked with a man named Konstantin Kilimnik, a fixer on a local level. Prosecutors uncovered evidence suggesting that Kilimnik has connections to aspects of Russian intelligence. Kilimnik continues to deny these ties, along with accusations of witness tampering, but prosecutors remain just as convinced that they are correct. It casts a lot more shade on his relationship with Paul Manafort.
Evidence of Offshore Accounts
Paul Manafort's trial revealed several instances of money laundering through shell companies that existed solely to funnel illicit funds. Manafort was also guilty of relying on the lax tax laws of a foreign bank account. Offshore accounts are a common way to keep fraudulent money safe without having to account for it.
Proof of Fraudulent Bank Loans
Manafort engaged in predatory borrowing habits, in that he lied outright to lenders as he tried to secure loans. He borrowed money against his own properties, then loaned out cash for his son-in-law's real estate pursuits. Going a step further, he also attempted to hide many of his debts while making out that his income was significantly higher than it actually was.
Paul Manafort's trial revealed illuminating facts, the very least of which is that he stole millions of dollars. What's your opinion on this saga? And perhaps a more important question: Who is next in the Mueller probe?