Paul Manafort’s trial judge made a concession to Robert Mueller’s prosecutors regarding comments he made during the trial.
Prosecutors won a victory of sorts Tuesday after persuading Judge T.S. Ellis III to allow a change to instructions he planned to give to jurors, according to Law & Crime.
The proposed instructions were related to the judge’s questioning of witnesses and running commentary in front of the jury. Attorneys convinced Ellis to replace two of the instructions with a single one which would address concerns by the prosecutors.
After Ellis had sent the jury home for the day, Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye passed the proposed new language of the revised instruction to the judge who had some issues.
“The diction is wrong,” Ellis said, sparking laughter in the courtroom. “At least mine didn’t split the infinitive. That’s not how I talk, that’s not how anybody talks.”
“Do you think I made such comments?” he asked about potentially prejudicial comments made by the court as Asonye hesitated to answer. Law & Crime reported.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Andres answered “yes” and quickly sat back down, prompting more laughter.
“Do you remember one?” Ellis asked.
“I remember several,” Andres replied, recounting last week’s witness testimony by former Manafort aide Rick Gates.
“Mr. Manafort was very good about keeping track of the money,” Gates reportedly said.
“Not the money you stole from him,’’ Ellis had quipped. “So he didn’t do it that closely.’’
Ellis agreed with the attorneys’ assessment and decided to revise his instructions to jurors, telling them to ignore what he said and focus on the evidence.
Testimony in the trial of Manafort, the former Trump campaign chair who is facing 18 charges of tax and banking crimes, ended when defense attorney Kevin Downing told Ellis that the defense rested, without Manafort or any witnesses being called to the stand.
Jurors will return on Wednesday to hear closing arguments.
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