Here are 5 times Paul Manafort's outrageous audacity and supreme arrogance were on full display
In September, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, joined the long list of Trump associates who’ve agreed to fully cooperate in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Manafort had been convicted of eight criminal charges on August 22 (including tax fraud and bank fraud) and was facing a second trial on charges that ranged from money laundering to obstruction of justice, but he agreed to cooperate with Mueller in exchange for leniency—or so he said.
On Monday, November 26, Mueller’s office announced that the deal was off: Manafort, Mueller’s team alleged, had repeatedly lied to federal prosecutors—and they were asking he be sentenced immediately. And on November 27, yet another bombshell came when the New York Times reported that Manafort had been using his attorney, Kevin Downing, to funnel information on Mueller’s investigation to Trump’s lawyers.
Pundits are asking: why would Manafort do something that is likely to result in a lot more prison time? Is Manafort confident that Trump will give him a presidential pardon?
Whatever his motives, Manafort has shown signs of arrogance and audaciousness as it pertains to Mueller’s investigation—and his professional life as a whole. Whether he was tampering with witnesses, making deals with Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs or committing blatant tax fraud, everything about Manafort is brazen, over-the-top and outrageous.
Here are five examples of how audacious and supremely arrogant Paul Manafort can be.
1. Manafort Spent $1.3 Million on Clothing Over the Course of Several Years
One of the witnesses at Manafort’s trial in August was a man named Maximilian Katzman, whose father operated a luxury menswear boutique in New York City. Katzman’s testimony made it clear that Manafort had incredibly expensive tastes: the veteran political operative once spent $102,000 at the boutique in a single day, and one of the items purchased was an ostrich jacket that retailed for $15,000. Over the course of several years, Manafort spent roughly $1.3 million on clothing (including $7500 for a silk suit). He also spent $21,000 for a watch and millions of dollars on his various homes. And while being a big spender isn’t illegal, Manafort committed major crimes to feed his expensive tastes—including tax fraud and bank fraud.
2. Manafort Evaded Taxes on $15 Million Worth of Income Earned by Promoting Ukrainian Oligarch Viktor Yanukovych
During Manafort’s trial in Alexandria, Virginia last summer, federal prosecutor Uzo Asonye asserted that the defendant paid for his expensive tastes by promoting East European oligarchs—including former Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovych. Manafort earned millions of dollars working with oligarchs, but he felt he should be exempt from paying taxes. And according to prosecutors for the U.S. Justice Department, Manafort evaded taxes on $15 million worth of income he earned promoting Yanukovych.
3. Manafort Resorted to Major Bank Fraud When East European Oligarchs Quit Paying
When the East European oligarchs that Manafort worked for quit paying, he wasn’t about to decrease his spending. Instead, prosecutors asserted during his trial, he filed false documents with banks in order to maintain his cash flow. According to Asonye, Manafort was so audacious that he brought bank officials, bookkeepers and accountants into his scheme.
4. Manafort’s Bail Was Revoked for Witness Tampering and Obstruction of Justice
In countless tweets, Trump has described Mueller as a Democratic Party operative who is carrying out a “witch hunt” against Republicans. But Mueller, who served as director of the FBI from 2001-2013, is a conservative Republican who was appointed by President George W. Bush—and he has a reputation for being a very thorough and meticulous law enforcement official. So when Manafort was indicted along with former business partner Rick Gates in October 2017, it was obvious that Mueller’s team had amassed a mountain of evidence.
Manafort was placed under house arrest, with bail set at $10 million and his passports confiscated—and in light of his predicament, he should have been careful to avoid any type of witness tampering. But when Mueller’s team found evidence that Manafort had been trying to coach potential witnesses, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson revoked his bail in June and ordered him to be jailed immediately. Manafort, who was two months away from his trial at that point, was already facing tax evasion and bank fraud charges—and according to Mueller’s team, he added obstruction of justice to the list of charges when he was out on bail.
5. Manafort Used Shell Companies in Cyprus to Pay Huge Bills
Cyprus is a Mediterranean island where Russian oligarchs have been known to stash considerable amounts of money, and it’s also a place where Manafort did a lot of business. During his trial, prosecutors asserted that Manafort had a habit of paying his gigantic bills through shell companies and banks in Cyprus. Maximilian Katzman testified that Manafort was the only one of his regular customers (which totaled 40) who paid through international wire transfer.