The Paul Manafort trial has entered its 3rd day and we are getting an even more complete photo of his opulent lifestyle, as well as his incredibly sketchy money managing process.
(Catch up on Day 1 and Day 2 here)
Manafort's long time bookkeeper, Heather Washkuhn, testified as a witness for the prosecution on Thursday and her testimony was incredibly damning. In one of the most incredible parts of her testimony, she disclosed that Manafort was technically BROKE in late 2015/early 2016 because his cash flow ran out. I mean, his LEGAL cash flow. By her estimation, he had no money. This led to him and his partners trying to find a way to secure loans to keep their bills paid and the electricity on.
This undercuts Manafort's potential defense tactic of claiming that his partner, Rick Gates, was responsible for an financial crimes. Washkuhn stated that Manafort knew where "every penny" went. Whoopsie.
The Washington Post reports that Washkuhn "spent hours on the witness stand, describing account balances, bills received, and payments. Her testimony is critical to the case being heard by a six-man, six-woman jury in Alexandria, Va., as Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, is charged with running a years-long scheme to hide millions of dollars from the IRS, and then, when his income ran dry, lying to get bank loans so he could continue living the good life." She also described Manafort as a “very knowledgeable...[who] was very detail oriented. He approved every penny of everything we paid."
She was asked about her knowledge of foreign accounts controlled by Manafort and stated that she had "no records" of any such accounts and was not aware of any. Odd, because we already heard testimony in Day 2 that Manafort was using wires from Cyprus to pay for hideous suits and $15,000 ostrich coats. Prosecutors also allege that Manafort made around $60 million dollars between 2010 and 2014 - so how did he suddenly go broke in early 2016?
Washkuhn’s testimony is critical for both the tax evasion charges and the bank fraud charges. The defense tried to paint Gates as the driving force behind any shady tax or financial filings, a tactic that backfired spectacularly when Washkuhn testified that Manafort was the man in charge. She stated: “He approved every expenditure on the personal and business side."
Paper cases are notoriously hard to win. They become even harder when your own bookkeeper blows up your only real defense: stupidity.