On Tuesday, Paul Manafort will face trial for allegedly funneling tens of millions through offshore shell companies to fund a super-opulent lifestyle — without paying taxes.
Last night, investigators shared the receipts.
The paper trail appears to show that President Trump’s former campaign chief paid $46,000 for a home karaoke and audio-video system, loaned a quarter-million bucks to an antique carpet store in Virginia in exchange for half-a-million bucks worth of oriental rugs as collateral, and splashed out $500,000 on less than two years’ worth of landscaping at his home in the Hamptons (including over $9,000 for hydrangeas and $8,000 just to keep his lawn mowed).
Manafort’s “karaoke song package” alone cost $950, according to the receipts.
These extravagant expenditures involving audio, carpets and landscaping documented in the paperwork released Thursday appear to kick off in early 2010, just months after Manafort’s client, Viktor Yanukovych, became President of Ukraine. Now, they’re part of a cluster of evidence central to the government’s case against him.
They indicate many of the luxury items and services enjoyed by Manafort were funded by payments sent from companies based in places like Cyprus. And the exact mechanics of that process will apparently feature in the government's case against Manafort, which alleges that he and his “right-hand man,” Rick Gates, “engaged in a scheme to hide income from United States authorities, while enjoying the use of the money.”
Manafort and Gates, prosecutors allege, used undisclosed income to “make improvements and refinance their United States properties.” Some of that income was allegedly disguised as “loans” from the offshore companies in order to get around paying taxes, according to the indictment.
The case against Manafort that begins Tuesday — before another scheduled for September in Washington DC — is essentially all about what Manafort did with his money while working as an advisor to Yanukovych over roughly a decade. Manafort’s work managing Trump’s campaign is not expected to be explicitly addressed.
On Thursday, Manafort’s lawyers asked the judge to ban large amounts of evidence about Manafort’s work for Yanukovych from the trial as well.
His team filed a motion to exclude more than 470 pages worth of evidence prosecutors had hoped to introduce about Manafort’s work in Ukraine, including political strategy memos and photographs of the Ukrainian president. The list includes emails between Manafort, Yanukovych and Tad Devine — a democratic operative who advised 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and previously worked alongside Manafort for Yanukovych.
According to press reports, Devine is now assisting special counsel Robert Mueller with the prosecution of Manafort.
On Friday, Mueller’s team asked the judge to give them until 5:00 pm on Monday to respond to Manafort’s lawyers’ request to bar all that evidence.
Now, as Manafort’s trial begins, his personal, financial and political life’s decisions will be put on full display for the public to dissect. But it will be up to Mueller’s prosecutors to show in court how those details, like splashing out on a top-notch karaoke system, add up to a criminal case against Manafort.
Cover image: Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives for arraignment on a third superseding indictment against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on charges of witness tampering, at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S. June 15, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst