Paul Manafort's fraud trial is hit by a morning of mysterious delay while the judge holds secret talks

Apology: Judge T.S. Ellis III told the jury:

The trial of Paul Manafort suffered a mysterious delay on Friday, as the judge faced the humiliating prospect of having to make a second public apology in recent days for taking a picture of prosecutors.

Judge T.S. Ellis III, prosecutors and defense lawyers spent much of the morning huddled in their bank, with a "white noise" machine turned on to prevent them from listening.

There were two separate meetings and even the subject of the discussions, which stopped any evidence that was heard on Friday morning, was not disclosed.

The judge did not give details about a & # 39; issue under seal & # 39; He told the jury that he was stopping the trial, which will resume on Friday afternoon.

But the robbery prompted speculation that it was related to a request from the office of special attorney Robert Mueller to keep a private courtroom conversation secret that could shed light on the "ongoing investigation."

Apology: Judge T.S. Ellis III told the jury: "Put aside these criticisms, I was probably wrong," after prosecutors complained that an outbreak on Wednesday could have harmed the case.

The conversation came on Tuesday when defense attorney Kevin Downing asked Rick Gates, the former Manafort business associate turned key witness of the prosecution, if he had been questioned by the FBI about the Trump campaign.

When Gates confirmed that he did, Andrés opposed the interrogation line and asked to discuss the matter at a private conference.

Under normal circumstances, the content of the conference would be made public.

Ellis agreed Thursday that the transcript of those discussions should remain private to "minimize any risk of harm". to the ongoing investigation, which was not specified but which is believed to be Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between Trump and Russia.

Friday's delays did not seem to unduly disrupt Manafort, as he was taken to court in an elegant navy blue suit, blue shirt and burgundy tie, at one point winking at someone in the audience.

He smiled broadly at his wife Kathleen, who was sitting in her usual spot in the front row of the public gallery, a few meters behind him.

The veteran lobbyist is accused of not paying taxes on $ 16.4 million he did working for a pro-Kremlin political party in Ukraine between 2006 and 2015.

Prosecutors say he concealed his huge profits by having the money transferred to foreign ghost corporations and then sent as loans.

They allege that Manafort channeled $ 30 million through a complex network of offshore bank accounts while splashing undeclared cash on luxury goods and items, including a $ 21,000 watch and a "$ 15,000 custom jacket made of an ostrich."

The father of two children is also accused of lying to the banks about their income and debts to fraudulently insure loans worth 26 million dollars.

In court: Paul Manafort denies the charges for banking and tax fraud. His trial was dominated by three days of evidence from his former deputy, Rick Gates, who turned upside down and became a witness collaborator with the investigation of Robert Mueller.

In court: Paul Manafort denies the charges for banking and tax fraud. His trial was dominated by three days of evidence from his former deputy, Rick Gates, who turned upside down and became a witness collaborator with the investigation of Robert Mueller.

In court: Paul Manafort denies the charges for banking and tax fraud. His trial was dominated by three days of evidence from his former deputy, Rick Gates, who turned upside down and became a witness collaborator with the investigation of Robert Mueller.

In court: Paul Manafort denies the charges for banking and tax fraud. His trial was dominated by three days of evidence from his former deputy, Rick Gates, who turned upside down and became a witness collaborator with the investigation of Robert Mueller.

In court: Paul Manafort denies the charges for banking and tax fraud. His trial was dominated by three days of evidence from his former deputy, Rick Gates, who turned upside down and became a witness collaborator with the investigation of Robert Mueller. Now that the evidence seems to have caused a test delay

Seat in the front row: Kathleen Manafort (right) was present while her husband, Paul, sat waiting waiting for the evidence against him to resume. She has been close to him throughout the trial and he smiled widely when he arrived

The Manafort side: lawyers for alleged swindler Kevin Downing (center), Thomas Zehnle (right) and Richard Westling (left) come to the audience

The Manafort side: lawyers for alleged swindler Kevin Downing (center), Thomas Zehnle (right) and Richard Westling (left) come to the audience

The Manafort side: lawyers for alleged swindler Kevin Downing (center), Thomas Zehnle (right) and Richard Westling (left) come to the audience

Manafort was the president of the Trump campaign from March to August 2016 and was present at the now famous Trump Tower, where Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner met with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have incriminating information about Hillary Clinton.

The trial was plagued by clashes between the judge and prosecutors, who appeared to win on Thursday.

They then filed a complaint overnight claiming the US District Judge. UU T.S. Ellis III had once again disparaged his case before the jury.

The jab arrived on Thursday afternoon when Assistant US Attorney Uzo Asonye questioned a Citizens Bank employee about a loan request of $ 5.5 million from Manafort for 69 years that they had rejected. When Asonye concluded his interrogation, Ellis scoffed: "You might want to spend time with a loan that was granted."

Prosecutors wrote in a complaint on Friday morning that the disposable comment, incorrectly conveys the court's opinion on the facts and is likely to confuse and mislead the jury.

& # 39; The court must give healing instructions to avoid any potential prejudice to the government & # 39;

The matter was not resolved during the Friday morning court session with the veteran judge and the lawyers on both sides spending much of the morning cuddling in private.

But if Ellis accepts an apology, a day will come after he was forced to apologize to the same lawyer for having reproached him Wednesday for allowing an expert witness to observe the process before presenting his evidence.

The landslide prompted prosecutors to investigate the transcripts of the first days of the trial to prove that Ellis had actually given IRS agent Michael Welch permission to sit in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.

Ellis, who has been on the bench for 31 years and has a reputation for harshness in court, began the proceedings the next morning by telling jurors: "Put aside these criticisms." I was probably wrong.

He added: "This robe does not make me more than human."

Prosecutors intend to end their case at the close of the game on Friday to avoid further clashes with Ellis, who has made headlines during the nine-day trial for disturbing them to "sharply focus". and speed things up

In a memorable exchange, Ellis shouted at prosecutor Greg Andres for not looking at him before joking with him for crying. & # 39; Look at me! Do not look down, "he shouted at Andres, who said he was trying to read a document, an explanation that the veteran judge ridiculed as" B.S. "

I understand how frustrated you are. In fact, there are tears in your eyes right now, "he snapped.

Even before the trial began, Ellis established the law by prohibiting the prosecution from making almost any reference to Manafort's previous role as president of the Trump campaign.

He also forbade them to use the term & # 39; oligarch & # 39; to describe the wealthy Ukrainian businessmen who paid Manafort for their political consultancy work, arguing that the description is pejorative & # 39 ;.

Ellis also lashed out at prosecutors for analyzing Manafort's excessive spending habits, and told the court on the first day of the trial: "It's not a crime to have a lot of money and be wasteful in your expenses."

On Friday morning, it was the turn of the media to bear the brunt of their frustrations when Ellis warned reporters to behave when he left the court for one of several unexplained recesses.

"Please, do not go over and take a look at what's on the counselors' tables," he said sternly.

& # 39; If it happens and you're caught, you'll be kicked out of the courtroom & # 39;

While this is the first evidence that emerges from Mueller's investigation into the Kremlin's interference in the 2016 US elections, prosecutors have not mentioned Russian interference at all.

His case only briefly mentioned the links of the Trump de Manafort campaign when it was alleged that he recommended his banker, Steve Calk, to a senior position in the Pentagon after obtaining a loan of $ 16 million.

The court heard that Manafort also tried to get tickets for Calk, founder and CEO of The Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, and tickets for his son to the inauguration of Trump.

The prosecution's case will depend to a large extent on the credibility of his former right-hand man Gates, who concluded his testimony on Wednesday.

Gates, 46, reached an agreement with the prosecution in February, admitting two counts of conspiracy and lying to the FBI in exchange for telling prosecutors how they hid their great fortune in the Ukraine.

In ten hours of testimony, Gates told the jury of six women and six men with forensic details how the pair hid their income in foreign bank accounts to evade federal taxes.

He also described how Manafort manipulated a 2016 profit and loss statement to change a loss of $ 638,000 to a multimillion-dollar gain that Gates then used in a bank to secure a loan.

Manafort's lawyers responded by attacking Gates Married as a serial thief and adulterer who embezzled money from Manafort's accounts abroad to lead a "secret life."

Not clear: the property of Paul Manafort in the luxurious Carroll Gardens of Brooklyn was also involved in his fraud, the court heard. Falsely he said he was free of mortgages when he was not

Not clear: the property of Paul Manafort in the luxurious Carroll Gardens of Brooklyn was also involved in his fraud, the court heard. Falsely he said he was free of mortgages when he was not

Property: Paul Manafort requested a loan in the SoHo, New York apartment, in this building he owned, but prosecutors say he fraudulently said that the apartment was for his use, then placed it on AirBnB.

Property: Paul Manafort requested a loan in the SoHo, New York apartment, in this building he owned, but prosecutors say he fraudulently said that the apartment was for his use, then placed it on AirBnB.

Property: Paul Manafort requested a loan in the SoHo, New York apartment, in this building he owned, but prosecutors say he fraudulently said that the apartment was for his use, then placed it on AirBnB.

Family affair: Paul Manafort sent an email to his son-in-law Jeff Yahai telling him that he needed to lie to the loan appraisers that the SoHo apartment in Manafort was being used as a residence when he was actually on Airbnb.

Family affair: Paul Manafort sent an email to his son-in-law Jeff Yahai telling him that he needed to lie to the loan appraisers that the SoHo apartment in Manafort was being used as a residence when he was actually on Airbnb.

Family affair: Paul Manafort sent an email to his son-in-law Jeff Yahai telling him that he needed to lie to the loan appraisers that the SoHo apartment in Manafort was being used as a residence when he was actually on Airbnb.

They told the court that he stole millions over the years to finance his luxurious jet-set lifestyle and secret lovers, and then committed fiscal and banking fraud under the name of Manafort to cover up his own crimes.

In the interrogation, Gates admitted to stealing "several hundred thousand dollars" from Manafort presenting false expense reports and confessed to having an extramarital affair.

But he told the jury: "I am very sorry and I take responsibility for it."

Since Gates, one of more than 20 prosecution witnesses, closed his evidence on Wednesday, the court has heard from a series of banking executives who argue that Manafort lied in loan applications in the spring of 2016.

He was able to get a $ 3.4 million mortgage refinance loan from Citizens Bank in a condominium he owned in lower Manhattan, but only after asking his son-in-law Jeff Yohai in an email to pretend that he and Manafort's daughter, Jessica, they lived there.

Manafort was renting the place on Airbnb, but he needed to maintain the deception that it was a family residence, so he could qualify for more than three times the maximum of $ 1 million that would be lent in investment properties, it is alleged.

The court was told that about a month later he did not mention the debt of 3.4 million when he obtained a second loan of $ 1 million in May 2016 from the Bank of California.

Vice President Gary Seferian said Manafort initially requested $ 5 million, but was offered a fifth when they discovered that a $ 25 million property in Bridgehampton, New York, which he initially claimed was his, in fact belonged to his wife Kathleen, 65 .

Asonye revealed two financial documents on the side of the court, one that shows the business of DMP International of Manafort with a net income of $ 4.4 million and another with a net income of only $ 400,000.

The court had already heard in Gates's previous testimony that Manafort allegedly ordered him to falsify these profit and loss accounts so that the veteran lobbyist could claim sufficient income to secure the loan.

Gates was originally accused as a co-conspirator before agreeing to testify against his former friend in the hope of being lenient.

Under the terms of his agreement, which can still be revoked if it is established that he has lied under oath, Gates faces up to six years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of conspiracy and lying to the FBI. However, he testified that the government had told him that he would not oppose parole.

Manafort, however, has been warned by Judge Ellis that he faces the possibility of spending "the rest of his life in prison" if he is found guilty.

He denies five charges for filing false tax returns, four for not reporting bank accounts abroad, four for bank fraud and five for bank fraud conspiracy.

Charges for bank fraud have a maximum sentence of 270 years, do not report foreign bank accounts of a possible 20 and file false tax returns of 15. The trial continues.

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