Manafort prosecutor lashes back when judge tries to speed up Gates' testimony
A prosecutor for special counsel Robert Mueller on Monday showed his frustration with the Virginia federal judge overseeing the trial of Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman.
Politico describes “a series of prickly clashes” between the prosecutor, Greg Andres, and U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III during testimony by Manafort’s former deputy, Rick Gates. According to Politico, Andres “sometimes lashed back” at the judge.
In one exchange, Ellis interrupted Andres during Gates’ testimony about his travels, according to Politico. “Let’s go to the heart of the matter,” Ellis said.
“Judge, we’ve been at the heart,” Andres began to reply before Ellis cut him off and scolded Andres for interrupting him.
Ellis said he doesn’t see how the travel testimony “amounts to a hill of beans” in the prosecution of Manafort, who is charged with bank fraud, tax evasion and failure to report foreign bank accounts.
After yet another interruption by Ellis and pushback by Andres, Ellis shouted, “Next question. … Next question, Sir!”
There was another clash when Ellis objected to testimony about political contributions in Ukraine. Andres said the donations weren’t political contributions, and the people donating the money were “oligarchs”—a term Ellis had banned from the trial.
Ellis responded that the testimony wasn’t relevant. “It doesn’t matter whether they’re good or bad or oligarchs or crooks or mafia or whatever,” he said. “You don’t need to throw mud at these people.”
Andres looked down at the lectern, leading Ellis to complain that the lawyer was “looking down as if to say, ‘This is B.S..’”
Andres told the judge, “We don’t do that to you.” That spurred a comment from Ellis about an earlier complaint he made about lawyers rolling their eyes.
“I find it hard to believe I was both looking down and rolling my eyes,” Andres said.
The Washington Post and the New York Times both describe Gates as the “star witness” in Manafort’s trial. He testified that he helped “organize the paperwork” for Manafort’s secret foreign bank accounts, and that wealthy contributors to Urkaine’s former president paid millions of dollars to Manafort for his consulting work.