Today in Trump’s America: Prosecutors paint picture of Manafort greed as trial begins in earnest
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Good morning from Emily Singer at Mic.
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Here’s what’s happening in Trump’s America:
• Trump is back from Tampa, Florida, where he held one of his signature rallies in which he took shots at his usual suspects (the press, Sen. John McCain, Democrats, etc.).
About last night: Trump administration official says he warned of harm to children from child separation policy
A Trump administration official testified on Tuesday that he spent months warning the administration that their “zero tolerance” policy that has led to the separation of children from their parents at the border would cause harm to children.
“There is no question that separation of children from parents entails significant potential for traumatic psychological injury to the child,” Health and Human Services official Jonathan White, who headed up the agency’s attempts to reunite families, said at a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to Bloomberg News.
White said that he had raised these concerns in April, before the policy was put into place, and said he was told that “there was no policy that was going to result in family separation” — which obviously was not true.
White’s testimony gives opponents of the Trump administration’s child separation policy — which has dogged the White House for weeks — even more ammunition.
Researchers have said that separating children from their parents can cause lifelong trauma, and White’s testimony shows that Trump administration officials were told of these effects and separated the children anyway.
Even Republicans at the hearing, including Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chastised the Trump administration’s policy at the hearing. Grassley said the administration is “failing miserably” at how they’re treating migrant children.
Today in Trump’s America: Manafort trial begins in earnest
The jury has been seated, opening arguments have been made and witnesses are now being called in the first trial for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Manafort’s defense team made its opening argument on Tuesday, claiming that Manafort had offshore bank accounts filled with the millions he made from his Ukrainian consulting business because that’s what the Ukrainian oligarchs who paid him demanded, according to the New York Times.
But Tad Devine, Bernie Sanders’ top strategist on the 2016 presidential campaign who worked with Manafort on the Ukrainian consulting, said that he did not have similar offshore bank accounts in Cyprus, according to the Washington Post. Devine was the first witness called by the prosecution.
The defense team also tried to pin the 32 charges of bank fraud and filing false tax returns onto one of Manafort’s former associates, Rick Gates, according to the New York Times. Gates already pleaded guilty in February to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of making a false statement to federal investigators. He is now the star witness for the government.
Manafort’s attorneys are trying to paint Gates as an untrustworthy witness, claiming he embezzled millions from Manafort and that he shouldn’t be trusted by the jury.
But Devine testified that Manafort was the head of the operation.
“Paul was in charge,” Devine said. “Rick worked for Paul.”
As for the prosecution, they’re trying to paint Manafort as a greedy man who spent lavishly on things like a $15,000 jacket “made from an ostrich” and a $21,000 watch, and then was forced to turn to bank fraud when the millions of dollars from his Ukrainian political consulting dried up, the New York Times reported.
Uzo Asonye, one of the federal prosecutors on the case, told the jury of six men and six women that Manafort made $60 million over the course of a decade for his work, and hid that money in order to avoid taxes, according to the New York Times’ report.
The prosecution will continue to call witnesses on Wednesday for the trial, which is expected to last three weeks.
And the rest…
Out of touch: At a rally in Tampa on Tuesday night, Trump defended voter ID laws by saying you need an ID to purchase groceries. I’m not sure the last time Trump went grocery shopping, but I can assure you that this Saturday when I went to the grocery store I was not asked for ID.
Election meddling: Facebook announced on Tuesday that it has removed dozens of fake accounts that were trying to influence the 2018 elections, though the company said it cannot determine whether the accounts were run by Russia.
Mueller time: Special counsel Robert Mueller referred three men to federal prosecutors in New York for possible illegal foreign lobbying, the New York Times reported. They include Tony Podesta — brother of former Hillary Clinton campaign strategist John Podesta — Gregory Craig, who served as White House counsel under former President Barack Obama, and former Rep. Vin Weber (R-Minn.). The bipartisan group of referrals puts a dent into Trump’s claims that Mueller’s team is biased against Republicans.