The majority of Monday’s Paul Manafort trial courtroom fireworks took place after jurors were dismissed — when U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III verbally blasted prosecutors during a 10-minute back-and-forth debate.
Ellis reportedly took issue with prosecutor Greg Andres regarding how slowly the prosecution was moving with former Manafort business partner Rick Gates as well as Andres’ portrayal of the relationship between Manafort and rich Ukrainian politicians.
“What matters are the allegations that he made money from them and didn’t report it,” said the judge, according to Fox News. “You don’t need to throw mud at these people.”
“I don’t know if they are bad or good. And I don’t care,” Ellis added, insisting that prosecutors focus on the charges instead of “political contributions.”
“I don’t know why you keep bringing (up) these people,” Andres fired back. “These people [Ukrainians] are not like any Americans. These people are oligarchs and that means they control a segment of the economy based on the governments allowing them to do that. These are not really political contributions. They are self-serving payments with respect to what oligarchs do.”
Ellis responded by insisting that even if the Ukrainian politicos “deserve” the characterization, it doesn’t apply to the case against Manafort.
“That makes it even clearer to me that it doesn’t have anything to do with the allegations in this case,” Ellis said. “It throws dirt on these people. They may deserve it. I don’t know – and I don’t care.”
At one point, Ellis reportedly got annoyed at Andres for not looking at him while talking.
“Look at me! Don’t look down,” Ellis said.
After Andres told the judge he was looking at a document relevant to the case, an annoyed Ellis said, “You looked down as if to say ‘that’s B.S.!’ I’m up here!”
Gates testified on Monday, and is scheduled to testify for an additional three hours on Tuesday, prosecutors say.