The trial of Paul Manafort, former chair of the 2016 Donald Trump presidential campaign, completed its first week in an Alexandria, Virginia, federal courtroom. Despite five days of dramatic testimony and bizarre evidence exhibits — including, as CNN reported, Manafort’s $15,000 ostrich skin jacket — Donald Trump has reportedly been watching the trial and come away with one impression; the whole trial is all about him.
“As Trump sees it, (Russia investigation Special Counsel Robert) Mueller is aggressively prosecuting Manafort — detailing his alleged tax evasion and bank fraud scheme and flashing snapshots of his extravagant wardrobe for the jury — to deliberately embarrass Trump and undermine his presidency,” reported the Washington Post on Saturday.
Publicly, Trump has attempted to distance himself from Manafort.
“Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign… He worked for me for what? For 49 days or something? A very short period of time,” Trump said, according to the Washington Post.
In fact, Trump hired Manafort on March 29, 2016, to organize his campaign’s efforts at the Republican National Convention, according to ABC News. Manafort had already worked for the Trump campaign for 51 days when Trump promoted him to campaign chair and chef strategist on May 19 of that year.
On August 19, after another 92 days of running the Trump campaign through its most critical phases, including the convention, Manafort was forced to resign over questions about his financial links to deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, as well as Manafort’s failure to register as a foreign agent, even though he had lobbied the U.S. government on behalf of the Yanukovich regime.
But Trump’s close connection to Manafort extends considerably further back than the 2016 campaign. As the Inquisitr has reported, when Manafort opened his first political consulting firm in 1980, his first client was none other than Donald J. Trump.
Trump has made his concern over the Manafort trial clear in public, as well as in private, posting to his Twitter account on multiple occasions. In his most recent Twitter post about Manafort, Trump complained that Manafort was “treated worse” than the 1920s-era mob boss Al Capone, “killer and ‘Public Enemy Number One,'” as Trump put it.
Capone was tried by the government in 1931 and finally convicted in October of that year of tax evasion, according to FBI records. Tax evasion is also one of the charges Manafort now faces in his federal trial, along with bank fraud, as the Washington Post noted.
Though the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia is not directly related to the charges against Manafort, Trump remains convinced that the whole purpose of the trial, as PBS News Hour reported, is to “undercut his presidency.”