Manafort trial day two: Judge tells prosecutors to stop saying 'oligarch'

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The judge presiding over the criminal trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortWebb: Questions for Robert Mueller Top Mueller prosecutor Zainab Ahmad joins law firm Gibson Dunn Russian oligarch's story could spell trouble for Team Mueller MORE told attorneys on Wednesday to stop using the term “oligarch.”

“Find another term to use,” said Judge T.S. Ellis, saying government prosecutors can instead refer to oligarchs as “people who financed the campaign.”


He said he wants to avoid oligarch being used to suggest Manafort was paid by criminals, since there’s no evidence of that.

Prosecutor Greg Andres pushed back by saying people in Ukraine use the term to refer to businessmen.

Ellis, who was appointed by President Reagan, said government attorneys can submit a brief arguing why they want to use the term.

Another contentious moment on the second day of the trial came when prosecutors tried to introduce photographic evidence of construction work at one of Manafort’s houses. Ellis said he didn’t see how the photos relate to the case being made against Manafort, who is facing 18 counts of bank and tax fraud, including allegations that he laundered $30 million from work on behalf of pro-Russia Ukrainian politicians and that he hid money overseas in unreported foreign accounts to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

Prosecutor Uzo Asonye said the photos are evidence of income and proof of the type of work he paid U.S. vendors for through foreign accounts.

Ellis said the photos just show Manafort had a lavish lifestyle.

Prosecutors also called political consultant Daniel Rabin to the witness stand Wednesday. Rabin testified that he worked for Manafort by helping make TV advertisements for political parties in Ukraine and Ukrainians running for political office. He said he was not required to open a Ukrainian bank account to get paid for his work.

Defense attorneys have said Manafort had to open foreign accounts to receive payment for his political consulting work in Ukraine, that his foreign clients wanted it that way.

The morning’s proceedings also included testimony from FBI agent Matthew Mikuska, who was involved with the search warrant executed at Manafort’s condo in Alexandria, Va., in August 2017.