A new accuser has named Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Sept. 26 as being present during her long ago gang rape at a party.

But justice seekers need much tougher tactics to counter the ruthless senators and their puppet masters who are now ramming the nominee through to confirmation without an honest investigation.

This column argues that reformers need to implement five strategies beginning today before the sham Senate hearing that is scheduled Thursday for new accusations against Kavanaugh. The column has been updated after being published early on Wednesday, Sept. 26 before attorney Michael Avenatti announced explosive charges against Kavanaugh by a named client.

brett kavanaugh 5 ways to thwart gop court fraud

Later that morning, Avenatti released via Twitter a sworn statement by a longtime federal employee, Julie Swetnick, identifying Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge as being present for a “gang rape” that Swetnick said victimized her at one one of about of about 10 house parties she says that she attended with them in the Washington, DC area in the early 1980s.

julie swetnick full photo via michael avenatti“I also witnessed,"  the statement said, "efforts by Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh and others to cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be ‘gang raped’ in a side room or bedroom by a ‘train’ of numerous boys ... These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh ... In approximately 1982, I became the victim of one of these ‘gang’ or ‘train’ rapes where Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh were present,” she added.

Avenatti wrote also, "Here is a picture of my client Julie Swetnick. She is courageous, brave and honest. We ask that her privacy and that of her family be respected."

Kavanaugh responded by reiterating his denial of wrongdoing. In a rambling 80-minute press conference filled vague if not misleading comments, President Trump restated his support for Kavanaugh, his denunciations of Avenatti and left open the possibility that he might change his mind after hearing from Kavanaugh's accusers in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday.

Trump seemed unaware that Senate Republicans have not permitted Swetnick and another accuser, Deborah Ramirez, either to speak to the committee or to the FBI in a renewed investigation. Trump said also that his own experience in being accused of sexual misconduct had made him especially sympathetic to Kavanaugh.

Trump falsely stated that he has been accused of misconduct by four women. The number has been widely reported at more than a dozen and up to a score of women, even discounting those who have withdrawn complaints, including two women who allege that Trump raped them when they were 12 and 13.

Avenatti described the Republican majority's planned proceeding Thursday as a "farce." 

Avenatti continued in his Tweet, "Below is my correspondence to Mr. Davis of moments ago, together with a sworn declaration from my client. We demand an immediate FBI investigation into the allegations. Under no circumstances should Brett Kavanaugh be confirmed absent a full and complete investigation."

Separately on Wednesday night, NBC's Kasie Hunt said her colleagues were reporting that a fourth accuser, currently anonymous, has surfaced who alleges that her daughter saw Kavanaugh in 1998 physically attack a woman outside a bar in a sexual manner and in a way that created that created a traumatic memory for the observers.. MSNBC said that Kavanaugh has denied the incident to committee Republicans, who were reported to be investigating the matter in an unspecified manner.

Bigger Picture

brett kavanaugh megans list wmr graphicOnly one of the nominee's accusers will be permitted to talk and she will not be able to provide supportive witnesses and other evidence. This is much like Senate Judiciary Committee senators deprived Anita Hill in 1991 of most of the supportive witnesses willing to back her during the rushed 1991 hearings leading to the 52-48 confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.

Republicans have already scheduled a committee vote for Friday because their leadership is desperate to install another highly partisan justice, like Thomas, to guide the courts further into their radical right activism by virtue of their court majority and their lifetime appointments.

One of Kavanaugh's special qualifications, it is reported, is that he has argued that presidents should now be immune in effect to criminal and civil litigation during their terms. That would be a special benefit to the man who nominated him, the legally vulnerable President Trump. It is also opportunistic reversal for Kavanaugh, who built his career in part by aggressively prosecuting President Bill Clinton as a member of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's staff during their 1990s efforts to impeach the Democrat over perjury and obstruction charges arising from his consensual oral sex with the former intern Monica Lewinsky.

That has provoked a furious response by justice seekers, with reactions that include more than 200 arrests of spectators during the first week of confirmation hearings this week and such strong insults as the graphic at right distributed on social media. This editor has observed these demonstrations in covering the Kavanaugh hearings, where the Senate's unfairness far exceeds the disgraceful levels at the 1991 confirmation hearings for Thomas that I attended. 

michael avenatti sketchFortunately, litigator Michael Avenatti apparently plans to start implementing the first of these recommendations later today with announcement of the identity of a client who is accusing Kavanaugh of raping her.

This crime is part of what Avenatti called on Sept. 23 a pattern of preppy gang violence against women stemming from Kavanaugh’s younger years, including during the time that the nominee attended the Jesuit-run Georgetown Prep School in the Washington, DC suburb of Bethesda, Maryland.

The brilliance of the strategy is that Avenatti, shown at left, and his client apparently are taking their case directly to the American public, thereby underscoring the sham so-called search for truth at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday. Yet their strategy does not undercut the utility of the committee hearing for the rest of a truth-seekers’ agenda.

We'll describe below the four other parts of our recommended strategy. But before that we suggest a way for readers to keep up with the many important news stories on the topics central to the court nomination battle.

As we reported earlier this week, so many developments are occurring that our Justice Integrity Project is chronicling them on a daily basis on several sub-sites that are accessible by buttons on our home page or more directly through the links here:

chuck grassley screams at patrick leahy confidential records screenshot

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) screams at his longtime Democratic colleague Pat Leahy of Vermont during the Kavanaugh hearing, in which Leahy and other Democrats have accused the nominee of perjuring himself by denying use of stolen Democratic Senate documents (screenshot).

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Breaking late Sunday were reports of at least two new sexual misconduct accusers against President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, as well as new details suggesting several GOP propaganda plots to win his confirmation by deceptive and otherwise sinister methods.

The new allegations of misconduct come from Deborah Ramirez, a former Yale College contemporary of the nominee, as reported by The New Yorker magazine writers Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer. Separately, litigator Michael Avenatti wrote via Twitter that he will make public soon a blockbuster allegation by one or more other accusers, summarized here by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, albeit with limited detail:

michael avenatti sketch“We are aware of significant evidence of multiple house parties in the Washington, D.C., area during the 1980s” during which Kavanaugh and others “would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs in order to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them,” Avenatti wrote.

Avenatti (shown in a portrait) said he would provide additional evidence in the coming days.

Kavanaugh, who has denied any wrongdoing, is shown below at left in a yearbook photo taken during his senior year at Georgetown Prep the same year he began studies at Yale. Critics of the nomination speculate that Republicans have known that more misconduct allegations were coming at him. So, they say, that is  why Senate Republicans fought so hard to prevent a renewed FBI investigation of his background and to hold any new hearing and vote on his nomination on a rushed schedule.

Update on Sept. 24 from the New York Times: Brett Kavanaugh, Facing New Allegations, Vows He Will Not Withdraw by Sheryl Gay Stolberg.

brett kavanaugh 1983 yearbookAlso on Sunday, negotiators for the Senate Judiciary Committee Republican majority and Kavanaugh's first accuser, Dr. Christine Brasey Ford, reached an apparent agreement on the major outlines of her scheduled testimony against the nominee, who is currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia after a disputed confirmation in which Democrats accused him of perjury regarding emails stolen from Democratic Senate staffers.

The nominee and his accuser, who is a professor based in California, are now confirmed to speak Thursday of this week before the committee on the same day at separate times.

christine blasey ford headshot croppedMeanwhile, several news outlets were reporting details and speculation about several alleged Republican public relations plots to defend Kavanaugh by planting false or misleading information in the media.

One of the most notable, albeit one so clumsy as to be derided later as "Keystone Cops," involved efforts to smear an innocent prep school classmate of Kavanaugh's with a false suggestion that it was the classmate, not Kavanaugh, who attempt to rape Brasey (the name she uses professionally).

Washington Post opinion columnist Kathleen Parker floated the concept of mistaken identity in a column on Sept. 18, Is there a Kavanaugh doppelganger?

Edward Whelan, president of a conservative think tank called the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a friend of Kavanaugh's, then heavily promoted the idea with the help of the well-connected Republican firm CRC Public Relations. Last week, they named one of Kavanaugh's prep school classmates as the likely suspect in attempting to rape Brasey.

Brasey on Friday thwarted that concept by writing that Whelan, a Harvard Law School graduate, was wrong to make the charge.

Whelan then retracted his claim, apologized and was put on leave of absence by his think tank's board for a month. But critics demanded answers on whether and how this campaign had been coordinated with Kavanaugh, the White House, the Washington Post's Parker and / or financial backers of the Kavanaugh appointment.

djt boris epshteyn sinclair kavanaugh sept 21 2018 Custom 2Among other important developments, President Trump's praised Kavanaugh on Sinclair Broadcasting Corp., as reported by Media Matters in Opinion: In an interview with Sinclair, Trump touts Kavanaugh’s “unblemished record” and says he thinks he will be confirmed.

Trump is shown at left with Sinclair host Boris Epshteyn, a former Trump staffer. Sinclair requires all its stations to carry Epshteyn's commentaries, which nearly always praise or otherwise defer to Trump and other Republicans. Sinclair owns more television stations by far than any other U.S. chain.

The now-chaotic nomination process has prompted revelations affecting all three branches of the federal government, plus the nation's mid-term elections in November and the news media, particularly credibility of specific outlets and their working relationships with sources.

Among many examples of conflict coming to light durign the Kavanaugh confirmation process is that CRC Public Relations loaned a staffer, Garrett Ventry, to the Senate Judiciary Committee's Republican majority to work on the Kavanaugh confirmation even though Ventry been fired from a previous job on a claim of sexual harassment. Ventry has denied wrongdoing but nonetheless resigned over the weekend.

chuck grassley fox disappointed allegationGrassley, meanwhile, has been using his immense powers to thwart on behalf of Kavanaugh the normally routine release of a nominee's documents and an FBI investigation of any claims of wrongdoing that arise during the confirmation process.

As illustrated by the adjoining graphic by Fox News, Grassley, a longtime Republican senator from Iowa, has been working with his PR team to foster the image that he and Kavanaugh are the real victims of any delays caused by questions about the nominee. 

So many developments are occurring that our Justice Integrity Project is chronicling them on a daily basis is several sub-sites that are accessible by buttons on our home page or more directly through the links here:

  • News Reports (Daily compilation of general news reports and commentaries relevant to justice and political matters)
  • #MeToo
  • Media
  • SCOTUS Review (Supreme Court of the United States)
  • Deep State (Propaganda, Assassination, Regime Change) News, Commentary)
  • Trump Watch (Mueller Probe and other investigations)
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An analysis of the guilty plea Sept. 14 by the corrupt global strategist and former Trump 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort features five notable crime scenarios easy to overlook by busy readers or even reporters.

Paul Manafort admitted during his federal court plea deal too many crimes to mention here or in any other news commentary of reasonable length.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson told her courtroom in the nation’s capital that she had never previously heard such a long litany of crimes, which are reported here in a court filing.

This editor covered Manafort’s guilty pleas on Sept. 14 at the federal courthouse in Washington, DC and the defendant's trial last month at the federal courthouse across the Potomac River from the District in Alexandria, Virginia.

evan perez cnn sept 14 2018 manafort plea jip MG 5396 Medium

A Justice Integrity Project photo shows CNN’s Justice Department correspondent Evan Perez reporting on the Sept. 14 Manafort guilty plea

It's being widely reported that Manafort could now be sharing secrets deeply damaging to President Trump and his family on such topics as the 2016 Trump Tower strategy meeting Republican National Convention Decodedwith Donald Trump Jr. and Russian representatives and also the reasons why the Trump campaign made a pro-Russia change in the GOP campaign platform under Manafort's leadership at the Republican National Convention in 2016.

More generally, the public sees the remarkable number of high-level aides to Trump who have been indicted and convicted. These include Manafort's longtime aide Rick Gates. Gates was also the 2016 Deputy National Campaign chairman and a leader of the Trump Inaugural. Others indicted and convicted include former Director of National Intelligence Michael Flynn and Trump's longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

allen weisselberg croppedPerhaps even more devastating to a Trump defense and other efforts to block an investigation are the massive documentation collected by Mueller's team and other federal and state prosecution allies.

These documents encompass White House and other federal records, nearly all of Cohen's professional records (possibly including tapes of conservations with Trump and others) and records kept by the Trump Organization's long-serving Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, shown at right, and likely including Trump's secret tax returns.

Yet there are other important aspects to Manafort's plea and forthcoming cooperation with prosecutors. Our picks as “notable news nuggets” are below, along with an appendix excerpting major news treatments published elsewhere.

  • Hiring 'the Best': Manafort Is 'The Swamp'
  • Manafort Admits To All Charges (Even those from the hung jury in Virginia)
  • Guilt Includes $16 Million Fraudulent Loan From Would-be Army Secretary
  • Mueller Probe Is Not a 'Witch-hunt' If Pro-Russian Party Paid Manafort To Hurt Hillary
  • Forfeitures Now Meet or Exceed Mueller Probe's Cost

Looking Ahead:

  • Forfeiture Precedent For United States To Seize Trump Assets Gained Via Crime?
  • Real Reason Why Manafort Backed Mike Pence For Vice President
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djt tump int hotel

The Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington, DC is shown above during its 2016 renovation (Justice Integrity Project photo).

A District of Columbia regulatory board is scheduled to hear a challenge on Wednesday to President Trump's 'good character' and thus to the Trump Organization's continued ability under local law to serve liquor in the Trump International Hotel, which is based in the historic Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House.

Five District religious figures and two retired judges filed a complaint in June before the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) that Trump failed to meet the law's requirement of "good character" that is necessary to hold a license via the Trump Organization management of the facility under its 99-year-lease. The complaint cited, among other things, claims that Trump was a “habitual liar” and accused sex offender who reportedly paid $25 million to settle claims of fraud against Trump University.

michael cohen ap file croppedA third amended complaint this month by the group's attorney Joshua Levy (available here) cited the recent guilty plea by Trump's longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen, shown at left, to federal charges in which authorities named another person widely reported to be Trump as an "unindicted co-conspirator" with Cohen in hush money payments to cover up sex scandals.

Trump's representatives have denied any violation and called for dismissal of the action. Regulators on ABRA are scheduled to weigh the evidence on Sept. 12 as part of a day-long hearing on other alleged violations by liquor license holders in the District.

karl racineLevy told the Huffington Post's Mary Papenfuss for a report Sept. 7 that he expects a decision this week about whether the body will forward the complaint to the District's Attorney General Karl Racine, shown at right, for further action.

Update: ABRA dismissed the action on Sept. 12, as reported by DC keeps Trump's liquor license intact, with the view that licenses cannot be reviewed on an interim basis. Challenges vowed to persist.

Separately in July, a federal court authorized Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh to proceed in evidence gathering for their lawsuit against Trump arguing that he violates the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. That clause forbids federal officeholders from receiving financial or material benefits from foreign governments or domestic government bodies.

Their lawsuit, with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) as co-counsel, notes that foreign officials and entities have rented facilities at the Trump International Hotel. Racine issued a statement following his side's interim victory.

Our Justice Integrity Project has followed such litigation closely because it provides rare potential for accountability for widespread reports of corruption and other law-breaking by Trump, his companies and associates through the decades.

The late superlawyer Roy Cohn, Trump's attorney and mentor, also represented leaders of at least three of New York City's five Mafia families, as indicated by the Wikipedia collage below and by numerous books and articles about the mob's instrumental role in Trump's real estate and gambling holdings.

djt roy cohn mob clients carmine galante john gotti tony salerno1533348924301

david cay johnston headshotTrump biographer David Cay Johnston, left, wrote in The Making of Donald Trump, Johnston's second biography of the tycoon, that New Jersey's Division of Gaming Enforcement remained "willfully blind" to Trump's many regulatory violations, unpaid bills and phony claims that he was a billionaire.

Johnston published one investigation of Trump's finances for the Philadelphia Inquirer headlined "Bankers Say Trump May Be Worth Less than Zero."

Johnston, who went on to report for the New York Times, closely covered Trump's Atlantic City casinos and mob associates as an indicator of the businessman's character. Atlantic City, crime and lax enforcement was the perfect environment, Johnston wrote, "for a Trump."

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As the U.S. Senate prepared for a Sept. 4 hearing on the controversial nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, some critics are renewing a seldom-reported view that Kavanaugh played a key role in covering up evidence in the 1993 death of Clinton White House Deputy Counsel Vincent Foster.

Critics Hugh Turley and Patrick Knowlton (the latter a witness who felt harassed by Kavanaugh's methods) have followed up years of controversy by sending a letter on Aug. 31 to all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The letter challenges the senators to explore what they call Kavanaugh's role covering up Foster's "murder," as described in their letter here.

Brett Kavanaugh.judgeWhy might leading Republican legal experts like Kavanaugh have supposedly conspired in a continuing cover-up of a tragic scandal involving a Democratic White House?

Turley declined to speculate as he spoke about the issue during his Aug. 29 lecture before the McClendon Group speaker society at the National Press Club.

But the most likely explanation points to bipartisan knowledge of heavy narcotics trafficking from Latin America through Arkansas during the Iran-Contra Affair during the 1980s when the Republican Reagan and Bush administrations wielded federal power, as described below.

In that view, neither political party then or now would want to explore Foster's work as a close associate of the Clinton family during Bill Clinton's gubernatorial years in Arkansas nor any of the potentially fatal implications for the nomination of Kavanaugh, 53, shown above at left, for a lifetime appointment to the court.

Foster's body was found in a Virginia park about 6 p.m. on July 20, 1993. Foster had last been reported seen five hours previously leaving his White House office about 1 p.m.

Kavanaugh, a hard-right attorney well-regarded in GOP circles, led the probe of Foster's death under Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, a Republican Reagan appointee to Washington's federal appellate bench during the 1980s and Justice Department Solicitor General from 1989 to 1993 under President George H. W. Bush.

vince fosterRepublicans on Washington's federal appeals court, led by Chief Judge David Sentelle, a prominent leader of the conservative Federalist Society, appointed Starr to investigate the Clintons' investments in Whitewater, an Arkansas real estate development, as Independent Counsel from 1994 to 1998.

In expanding the probe to other matters, Starr and his associate counsel, Kavanaugh, in 1997 affirmed a U.S. Park Service Police report asserting that Foster, shown right, had fatally shot himself in Fort Marcy Park, located near the Potomac River that divides Virginia from the District of Columbia.

That official report and similar ones have been widely disputed.

One sign of the dispute was the Aug. 31 letter to the Senate noted above. Others include: a 1997 special appendix to Starr's "Report on the Death of Vincent Foster," several books, and the dinner lecture on Aug. 29 at the press club by the conservative commentator Turley.

One of Turley's key points is that the park visitor, Knowlton, has repeatedly stated that Kavanaugh improperly pressured him to change his testimony disputing the official account of the death. 

American Survival Inc. President Cliff Kincaid, a conservative commentator with views similar to Turley's and Knowlton's, attended the press club dinner lecture also, as did Knowlton's attorney John Clarke. Kincaid previewed his group's report that opposes Kavanaugh. The report announced on Sept. 1 is entitled: "The Deep State Wears Black Robes." 

hugh turleyTurley, left, his colleagues Kincaid, the late Accuracy in Media founder Reed Irvine and others have researched the death for more than two decades. They conclude that Kavanaugh and Starr suppressed strong evidence disputing official police reports that Foster committed suicide in the park.

Turley asserts that Foster's death was a "murder," although he declined last week to speculate on who killed Foster or why.

Justice Integrity Project coverage of these allegations is part of our in-depth reporting on the Supreme Court that combines mainstream, alternative and original reporting. These materials are curated on our special sub-site SCOTUS Review, named for the "SCOTUS" initialization of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Our SCOTUS selections focus heavily during recent months on the history-making Kavanaugh nomination that President Trump made on July 9. That coverage includes political and legal analysis from the political right and investigators of Iran-Contra era narcotics trafficking that are seldom reported by the mainstream media.

barry seal 1982One especially sensitive topic is the cocaine trafficking of Barry Seal, shown at right in a 1982 photo. Seal, a talented pilot beginning as a teenager in Louisiana, became linked with both federal agencies and the Medellín Cartel at times. Seal used a small rural airport in Mena, Arkansas as one of his main landing spots before his assassination in 1986. Seal's life story is portrayed (with significant omissions) in the recent bio-pic American Made starring Tom Cruise as Seal.

Investigator Daniel Hopsicker, author of the book Barry and the boys, (with "the boys" including federal operatives at times in Seal's career, according to Hopsicker's account) estimates that Seal personally imported $5 billion of narcotics into the United States during his years as a rogue operative, making him one of the most important U.S. drug traffickers of all time. Seal, arrested by the Drug Enforcement Administration for narcotics trafficking, was assassinated in 1986 after desperately seeking help with his case from friends, some in high places.

Kavanaugh's role in the Foster investigation deserves far more than scrutiny than it has received so far — or is likely to receive in the rushed Senate confirmation hearings — even if some of the more extreme allegations of "murder" and knowledge of past drug-running remain in doubt because of bipartisan complicity in thwarting law enforcement and judicial proceedings.

To confirm Kavanaugh under those circumstances, we argue, creates a travesty of justice.

Yet that is the foreseeable result of the rushed confirmation hearing with an expected vote nearly along party lines. It would take at least one Republican in the current 50-49 GOP majority to call for additional time to investigate Kavanaugh's background and the overall circumstances of his appointment.    

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A federal jury in Virginia began deliberations on Aug. 16 of charges that President Trump's 2016 campaign manager committed astonishing levels of multi-million-dollar corruption.

Update 1: Manafort convicted on 10 of 18 counts as Justice Integrity Project's editor Andrew Kreig reports from inside the courthouse.

Update 2: On Sept. 14, Manafort pled guilty to a superseding indictment resolving all his remaining charges, including charged pending in the DFistrict of Columbia and all remaining 10 counts in Virginia. His plea included agreement to cooperate with prosecutors, $46 million in property forfeitures and admission that all government charges were valid. In return prosecutors promised to take his admissions into consideration in recommending sentencing. Details here in a CBS report and in the appendix: BS News, Paul Manafort will cooperate with special counsel.

Following a 12-day trial, the jury in the Washington suburb of Alexandria began considering the tax, bank fraud and conspiracy charges filed by the Justice Department's Trump For Presidentspecial counsel against 2016 Trump Campaign Manager Paul J. Manafort for conduct that stemmed largely from Manafort's years as adviser to a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party before he joined the Trump campaign in the spring of 2016.

But one subset set of the 18 pending charges alleged that Manafort — shown below right in a 2016 screenshot just before the Republican National Convention — received $16 million in unmerited, fraudulent loans from a Chicago banker who sought help from Manafort in 2016 to obtain a top post in the Trump administration.

That evidence opened a rare window into a breathtaking degree of corruption involving Trump supporters like Manafort and Chicago banker Stephen Calk, even if Calk obtained only an advisory post instead one of more than a dozen other top posts that he wanted.

paul manafort cnnQuoted below (near this column's conclusion) is Calk's seemingly illegal letter of self-recommendation (with repeated misspellings of simple words) and grandiose expectations of becoming Army Secretary, Treasury Secretary, or some comparable post near the highest level of government.

An email from Trump's influential son-in-law Jared Kushner introduced at the trial quoted Kushner as telling Manafort that Kushner was "on" the task of reviewing Manafort's recommendation of Calk. Manafort had been replaced as campaign manager during the summer but was still attempting to wheel and deal.

robert mueller full face fileThe first trial by the team of Special Counsel Robert Mueller III, left, is important in sustaining public confidence because Trump and his supporters are ramping up their relentless effort to kill the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and related corruption issues.

The stakes thus extend beyond Manafort's fate.

But even the narrow scope of the allegations is remarkable. Manafort allegedly avoided income taxes on $60 million in income, then obtained many millions in more in fraudulent bank loans when his income evaporated — and still managed to escape detection from authorities in both parties until the special counsel probe.

'Big Picture' Not Allowed

Justice Department log circularMention of circumstances surrounding the $16 million in loans was an exception to the general rule imposed by the presiding judge that Manafort's campaign and Trump connections would be kept to a minimum during the trial. But those relationships are what kept the 100-seat courtroom packed to capacity throughout the trial. An overflow room was also near capacity at many times, including during closing arguments Wednesday.

The prosecution presented a powerful case with 27 witnesses supported by nearly 400 exhibits to show that Manafort paid minimal taxes on $60 million in income hidden in overseas banks from 2010 to 2014.

The bank accounts were located primarily in Cyprus, a preferred locale for Eastern European money launderers. The money was alleged to have come from allies of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, including Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. Not mentioned during the trial but well known to investigators is that Trump's U.S. Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross, a Mar-a-Lago crony of Trump, chaired the Bank of Cyprus before his current post.

The government also charged Manafort with repeatedly submitting false documents during the years 2015 and 2016 to obtain millions of dollars more in loans from three U.S. banks with fraudulent financial documentation after Manafort's income from oligarchs dried up because of the 2014 overthrow of the Ukraine' president.

rick gates cropped aug 2018The defense presented no witnesses and argued during closing arguments that any wrongdoing was committed by Manafort's junior partner Richard "Rick" Gates, left, who is now a prosecution witness, and other largely unnamed players. Gates seeks leniency from prosecutors via a plea deal to reduced charges. Gates is required by his plea agreement to testify honestly or face renewed prosecution.

Prosecutor Greg Andres argued that “The star witness in this case is the documents,” and not Gates. The prosecution entered 388 documents. The defense entered 10.

The defense closing argument seemed weak and scattered, according to many courtroom observers, including this editor. It thus seemed possible that Manafort, Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoinstead of seeking a plea deal, was relying on some non-courtroom strategy, such as a possible pardon from Trump.

Updates: The jury failed to reach a decision on its first two days of deliberations and asked the judge for guidance on four questions. Trump, meanwhile, told reporters on Friday that the prosecution was "sad" and he had sympathy for Manafort, whom he described as "a good man." The jury resumed deliberations on Monday.

This editor attended selected segments of the trial. Provided below are excerpts from others' coverage.

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